Brother of a very good friend grew up with the tag ‘slow’ till he was 12 years old.  He was beaten mercilessly by the teachers and mocked by his classmates every day of his life. He told me how he used to hide behind the trees and bushes so he didn’t have to participate in sports and how the gardener used to snitch on him and tell the teacher where he was hiding. Things changed when his sister completed MBBS and had a light bulb moment.. that her brother is actually short sighted. ( very very bad case of Astigmatism) He is exceptionally brilliant and missed out on schooling in his formative years and didn’t have the will to undo the damage and fight. Today he works as a special ed teacher because he believes that no child should ever go through what he went through..(We now know why he never participated in any sports.. he couldn’t see a thing)

My parents found out I had severe astigmatism when I was in grade 2. Their world practically collapsed..because of the amount of dowry they have to pay for me..already slow in studies..and now blind as well.. Elementary schools in those days practiced seating according to rank and me being the class idiot had the last spot…odukkam benchil odukkamatthey seat was mine..permanently. Now, when I look back, I know  for a fact that I never heard a word the teacher spoke..I was so clueless..even for homework because I didn’t hear the teacher’s instructions. The tag slow and stupid was forever imprinted on my own psychic. It was even more hard when everyone talked so high about my oldest sister and how brilliant she was..and then looked disappointingly at me.. The first time I wanted to run away from home I was 9 years old. I actually did. I walked all the way to the CSI church the only place I knew outside my home and beside the school..which for a 9 year old was really a far distance.. like almost to the end of the world.. but once I reached there, I didn’t know what to do or where to go.. so I walked back home.

When I was 10 years old, my mother registered me for summer classes at the children’s library.. Amma wanted me to learn dancing and I wanted to learn to play guitar. After begging and pleading, she relented. There were lots of kids in he class… and everyone had to sit in a large circle and the teacher spoke..obviously I couldn’t hear him.. and when everyone was playing the chords, I sat idly. Some people have an affinity for picking on the this case the teacher loved picking on me. One day, in front of the whole class he asked me something.. and I couldn’t hear him.. I smiled and nodded my head..

What he asked me was “When you come tomorrow for the lessons, Will you forget the lesson I taught you today?” Happily I nodded my head and said Yes.. I can still hear the mean laughter that followed…. and after the class, the students pointed me to other students in other classes and everyone was laughing at me. I stopped attending the guitar classes after that.. and got in to bigger trouble because the teacher complained to my mother that I was skipping classes she already paid for..

When I was finally occurred to my mother that there was something really wrong with me.. I never heard her, when she called me from behind..and one day she took me to the district hospital from school, I can still see myself walking to the hospital.. wearing my school uniform..the ENT doctors clinic was on the first floor… it over looked the main road.. and a branch of flame of the forest was almost reaching the window..and I remember thinking how much fun it would be when the tree is actually blooming.. you could lean across and grab the flowers.. I sat on the little round steel stool.. and my mother explained the history and the doctor watched me.. and then he talked to me..and I replied..then he covered his mouth with his hand and I couldn’t hear him.. I still remember the shock on his face.. he told my mother, this was the first time he has seen a patient who could lip read without actually being taught to do so. He had warned my mother years ago to do the tonsillectomy cause associated adenoiditis was known to damage auditory nerve.. But my parents were scared to do the surgery.. what if I didn’t wake up after anaesthesia..

I remember walking out of the clinic.. I didn’t feel sad that I was deaf.. I was relieved that I finally knew what is wrong with me.. But the worst was yet to come.. When we went to the hospital we took an auto from the school.. As we got out of the hospital entrance.. there were autos parked on the left side and I slowed down.. thinking  Amma was going to take an auto.. but she was mad.. really mad..and she dragged my hand and started walking back to the school.. and then she said

“I had asked the doctor (I can’t remember his name) for an abortion and he told me that foetus was more than 3 months old ( when amma had mumps) and won’t have any damage.. If only I had the abortion.. “

24 thoughts on “Hmm

  1. What a horrid thing to say to a child! Amma definitely had a mean streak. I am so sorry to hear about your hearing loss. When I think of you I imagine Methran Thambi’s spirited granddaughter who overcame every adversity life threw her way and emerged stronger. The one whose mantra is “Tholkaan enikku manasilla”. You may be down now, but you are such a fighter; you will come through as always. Wish you all the best. Hugs and positive vibes.

    • A: I don’t think Amma ever realized how much that one comment hurt me. But the good thing to come out of that event was that it made me a better mother. I have always been careful of what I say to my children. Because I know kids will never forget..or forgive.

  2. Count your stars, at least she took you to the doctor to diagnose what was wrong. Perhaps if you focus on the good rather than the bad, you may have less hate towards your family.

    • Sofianne: You are wrong. Every one of my achievements was because I refused to give up. I am yet to meet another person who has endured as much as I did and survived to tell the tale. I also don’t think there is a need to hate my family any is the hatred that helps me to strive.. because if I falter, I know they won’t be there to help me..

  3. “I had asked the doctor (I can’t remember his name) for an abortion and he told me that foetus was more than 3 months old ( when amma had mumps) and won’t have any damage.. If only I had the abortion.. “

    What kind of mother would say this to her own child…like really? :0

    I have gotten my fair of comments where I was told I was “slow” or “different” from other kids and a few times got lashed at because of it. Like do they expect us to be perfect human beings who can never make errors in life?

    Just because people have certain health problems/disabilities..etc,etc, they have every right to live and be treated equally as an individual. It’s makes me mad and is a shame that India still appears not to have any respect for the disabled or those who may be behind in development. It’s slowly changing, but the stares and gossip is still prevalent.

    • J1206: Parents talk a lot of mean things to their children.. not really realizing the impact it would have on their kids. My mother was angry..and took it out on me..

  4. Hugs dear…. I just dont know what else to say! Im almost in tears reading this post… Hugs again… may you find your wings yet again !

  5. Please don’t torture yourself like this.
    You are a wonderful human being. Great parent and so accomplished yourself.
    You single-handedly raised your children; all of them are funny, with wonderful personalities and talents and you let them bloom into themselves.
    Let the past go consciously. This is the only way.
    I have been where you are now and it didn’t help me. All the old worries, anxieties and stresses just dragged me down and made me feel worthless and not up to my potential.
    Surround yourself with positive people.
    God bless

  6. Frustrating , it’s like a 2 sides of a coin

    Ur mum was sad and let it out by telling the past that shouldn’t have been split out loud,

    You heard the truth and I cannot even think you you felt .

    • Nitha: There was no two sides.. as a parent, you know having children equates responsibilities.. My mother should have been the strong one.. to tell me the world is mine to conquer.. instead she told me, she regretted not having the abortion.. However frustrated and upset she was with the diagnosis, it doesn’t excuse her behaviour.

  7. what ma?.. don’t spiral down! You are here. you are important. your kids look up to you.. everything else at this point is not material. What amma said and thought, though not nice to hear is irrelevant. You have already proved everyone wrong. As you have number of times said that no one expected you to reach where you are today.
    Find your stable ground and work on finding a way.

  8. This is a very common issue in Iindia, a small issue such as ear infection, can cause permanant heating damage to child. My 7 month old got ear infection, that will not go away with couple of antibiotic treatment. He got ear tubes, which last a year long, and then fall off. He got 2 more sets after that, because his got repeat ear infection. I deaded sending him for surgery to install ear tube, I crird each time. Doc told me first time, it looks bad, but u r doing the best for ur child. These tubes are critical for him, to protect his hearing. I got hearing tests done each 3 months and checked ear tube fluid status. All this and we came out at the other end. Indian people here gasp, when I say he had 3 sets of tubes. In fact, it is a small childhood thing that is safe and necessary treatment for saving hearing and out of any ones control. Some children develop ear fluid tube tilt a bit later, than others. Sometimes lack of knowledge and unnecessary fear installed by ignorant people can result into diaster for a child.
    My mother when u left I India 18 years ago, told me to never come back. She wanted me gone, because coming back will mean, they will have to deal with my marriage etc. I have come to realize that some people only worry abt themselves and consequences for themselves. They think they can control everything, such what kind of child they will have. I have forgiven such selfish and ignorant ones and VOW to maintain a SOLID distance from them, so they know that they are not welcome in my life.

    • Joan: What your child had was otitis media and grommet insertion. Insertion of grommet is a pretty straight surgery under GA. I didn’t have ear infection. I had recurrent tonsillitis along with adenoiditis..which sometimes damage the auditory nerve..

  9. This reminds me to thank you again for the re-assurance you gave me…when i wrote to you about my sons ear problem… Today he is much better. Its a pity the yardsticks used to chk eligibility into professional courses does not include …once in a blue moon exceptions. You would have been a brilliant and understanding Doc!! Its their loss. Have you ever thought of doing a course on alternative medicine…which is recognized and can be practiced all over the world. Its just a remote and wild idea that came to me!!

    • Susan: I understand from the professional point of view.. When I was doing surgery, I struggled a lot because I could not lip read when people wore mask..My surgery prof knew my deafness and would often pull the mask down, so I could hear him.. but there was a reason we wore the mask..

  10. chechi
    your writing is an inspiration in many many ways, and thank you for sharing those hardest thoughts and feelings, whether you know it or not its heart warming to read about your journey and all you have overcome. you have beautiful mature wonderful kids, and who are a reflection of your guidance.

    this too will pass


    • Ra: Thank you for calling me chechy.. it has been years since anyone in my family called me chechy.. you made my day..

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