Few days back I was asked to judge a fancy dress competition for differently-abled people (earlier called disabled) as there were lots of things happening for the disability day in rehabilitation centre, NIMHANS. These participants were having lot of life challenges from mental illnesses to neurological ones and also challenge in the intellectual realm.
I found judging really difficult because there were so many good participants. Still we managed:)
Seeing their performance, I wanted to attend the final celebration when there will be cultural programs by the participants. Along with few colleagues I had planned for just few of the programs but we ended up watching all, since we loved it all.
There were classical dances to break dance..... and a fashion show where a wheel chair bound person's performance showed the entire hall that the life breaks through all such boundaries.
We came out of the halls inspired and awed by the joy of this group of individuals who deserved so much of admiration, and the people who were working with them.
Yesterday I was reminded again of it all, while watching a lovely movie about a child with Dyslexia ('Tare Zamen Per'). Very sensitively made movie and the director had done the homework properly regarding the multi-modal multi-sensory training for such difficulties and also the psychological-social and legal viewpoints about it. Unlike the movie 'Black' where right issues were raised and had great visuals....but unfortunately the audience leaving the hall didn't carry back much about such children in every day life and what to do about it .....
Movie 'Tare Zameen Per' reminded me of a much celebrated book on 'Play-therapy', which has become a classic in itself 'Dibs in Search of Self'. Dibs was a brilliant, lonely child (mistaken as a profoundly retarded child) trapped in a prison of fear and rage, a prison from which only he could release himself. And through psychotherapy and love he did- A true story of a child's search of self and meaning and finding that the security of his world was not wholistically outside himself but that the stabilizing centre he searched for with such intensity was deep down inside that self.
Here I just can't hold myself back in selecting three lovely paragraphs from the book, one at the start, one about play room and one in the end....for more get a copy of this book and read for yourself:)
"...Night...The darkened sky gives growing room for softened judgements, for suspended indictments, for emotional hospitality. What IS seen in such light seems to have so many possibilities...Here the benefit of a doubt can flourish and survive long enough to force considerations of the scope and limitations of human evaluation. For when horizons grow or diminish within a person the distances are not measurable by other people. ....Even though we do not have the wisdom to enumerate the reasons for the behavior of another person we can grant that every individual does have his private world of meaning, conceived out of the integrity and dignity of his personality.....I thought of many children i had known - children who were unhappy, each frustrated in the attempt to achieve a selfhood he could claim with dignity - children not understood, but striving again and again to become persons in their right...."
(About play room) "... There was nothing about the room or the materials in it that would tend to restrain the activities of a child. Nothing seemed to be either too fragile or too good to touch or knock about. The room provided space and some materials that might lend themselves to the emergence of the personalities of the children who might spend some time there. The ingredients of experience would make the room uniquely different for each child. Here a child might search the silence for old sounds, shout out his discoveries of a self momentarily captured, and so escape from the prison of his uncertainties, anxieties and fears. He brings into this room the impact of all the shapes and sounds and colors and movements and rebuilds his world reduced to a size he can handle."
"Dibs had had his dark moments and had lived for a while in the shadows of life. But he had had the opportunity to move out of those dark moments and discover for himself that he could cope with the shadows and sunshine in his life. ....Perhaps there is more understanding and beauty in life when the glaring sunlight is softened by the patterns of shadows. Perhaps there is more depth in a relationship that has weathered some storms. Experience that never disappoints or saddens or stirs up feeling is a bland experience with little challenge or variation in color. Perhaps when we experience confidence and faith and hope that we see materialise before our eyes, this builds up within us a feeling of inner strength, courage and security......We are all personalities that grow and develop as a result of all our experiences, relationships, thoughts and emotions. We are the sum total of all the parts that go into the making of life."