Friday, 27 April 2018

Yashika 26 April 2018

It was Sunday. A small get together was planned by Lalita at her house. Relatives and friends were enjoying the grub when a young boy came running.  “Aunti, Yashika is throwing her toys out of the window and is shouting.” Lalita rushed to Yashika’s room. Yashika saw her mother but did not look at her. When Lalita tried to talk to her, she kept her head down and all of a sudden she started blubbering. Lalita saw people pouring into the room. Lalita, in order to make her comfortable, tried to embrace her but she was shooed away.  She asked her in soft but firm voice the reason of her outburst but Yashika was not able to express fully. A few children present there started laughing at her predicament. Frustration was writ large on Yashika. Anger had taken over her. She charged towards children with her clenched fists. One of the relatives asked Lalita. “What is wrong with her, Lalita ?”Lalita did not say anything.  She hugged Yashika, smooched her and made her to calm down. Soon the crowd in the room dispersed to another room.
Few days later.
Lalita was not in her elements. She entered the room throwing her purse on the bed and started weeping which gradually turned into sobbing.  The tears must have cleared the haze and lightened her mind. She got up, went to the washroom, splashed her face with cold water, wiped it with a towel and came back to the room. She stopped in the middle of the room engrossed in her thoughts. After a while she took deep breath and uttered to nobody. “I have lost you, I am not going to lose her” She was a single mother having lost her husband three years ago while fighting with terrorists in J & K . Yashika was hardly two years old then.
 One day.
It was evening. Six years old Yashika was playing with her teddy when she saw her mother Lalita.  Lalita spread her arms calling her name. Yashika did not bother to reciprocate but muttered few words and proceeded  to play with her teddy ignoring her mother’s presence in the room.  Lalita stood there helpless. She had been noticing changes in Yashika’s behavior since the death of her father. Yashika had become introvert. Her speech had become incoherent and sometimes she could speak only few words or phrases. Yashika was of robust health yet mental growth including her speech was a matter of concern to Lalita.  Whenever Yashika was asked a question, she used to stare at nothing. She seemed to be a  dumb witted girl but  Lalita always wondered at Yashika’s capabilities of building  small yet meaningful things from the moulds and blocks whenever she was in playful mood.  She marvelled at her skill of drawing sketches. Till date Lalita was living constantly in denial mode hoping that there was nothing wrong with her only child.  However her fears turned into the reality when her paediatrician finally declared that she was an autistic child having  autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which in plain terms was an abnormality affecting  neurodevelopment of a child. Lalita was heartbroken. She had come to the terms after her husband’s martyrdom but this was a terrible disaster to strike her so far as her present life was concerned.
Lalita was not a woman of weak legs. She was always up to the challenging tasks and Yashika’s medical condition of different type made her to brave this grave challenge too. She knew it was of no use to be a cribbing, sobbing mother, getting stressed or depressed. She knew her child was not a bad one and manner less as everyone thought so.  She knew Yashika was fast becoming emotional leading to her outbursts sometimes. She knew Yashika was a matter of discussion amongst her extended family, friends and  member of society who were unable to appreciate the difficulties of an autistic child and his/her parents. She also knew that Yashika needed special care. Lord Krishna had been merciful as Yashika was diagnosed this different condition at an early stages of her life.  She made it a point to plan her treatment, to provide Yashika proper care, treat her lovingly, make her creative  and find the ways to increase her motor skills. Parenting had become more than a cause to her. She bought number of books on autism which also included a coffee table book on the personalities who suffered from ASD.
Few months later.
Yashika was in the room with her mother. Lalita was watching TV. Yashika  seemed to be interested as the program was visually comprehensible. TV was showing fun games with paper. Yashika heard children shouting watching a paper boat in one of the children’s hand.  She also took a paper in her hand. She tried to fold it in many ways. Soon she got frustrated and started throwing things. Lalita got up, patted her, got her attention and folded the paper from four corners to make a paper boat. She repeated this exercise many times over. Yashika was keenly watching the making of  paper boats. Lalita went to kitchen for some time and when she returned to room, she found a paper boat made by Yashika on her own. Her joy was simply speechless.
Another day Lalita saw Yashika  keenly browsing through the coffee table book. She pointed to pictures. Lalita took her into lap and tried to make her understand the names of personalities and then lovingly said, “ Yashi dear, they all were like you. They did not bother about their mental limitations in their life and look they all have become great in their respective chosen fields.”  Yashika took her own sweet time before she blinked thrice with a broad smile and nodded her head several times.
Time flew by.
Yashika was seven years old. She was a school going girl. Last few years were unnerving for both Yashika and Naraini. Yashika wanted to get out that situation herself but always found herself in a traffic jam of jumbled thoughts and actions from where she could not come out though she has developed a sort of rapport with her mother, a few of the children of her society and classmates as well. The change however little was more comforting for her mother. Yashika picked up skills to draw sketches and portraits of anything which Yashika took fancy of. Headmistress of her school understanding her special needs, made all arrangement to hone her skills in her own way. Her confidence level rose appreciably. She had started mingling with the children and had full confidence in her mother. Lalita on her part was always there for her. Slowly and gradually some of her immediate relatives and friends too got involved in her smooth upbringing. Lalita had put Yashika under the guidance of a behavioural therapist. Yashika had started to express herself step by step but she often used to get angry on the smallest pretext due to lack of expressiveness. On the advice of her behavioural therapist Lalita either ignored her tantrums completely or fulfilled her demands to sooth her nerves. Both methods worked.
Once the final exams were over, the school organized a science and social exhibition. Students displayed their talents through items which were socially useful. The judges including the Headmistress of the school was making notes of each and every science exhibits and artworks. The main judge noticed a young girl standing in a corner, lost in her thoughts, holding a medium size sketch book in her hand. He went to her. The Headmistress told him that she was Yashika. He patted her and asked her to show him the sketchbook. Yashika did not want to part with her sketch book but feeling assured by the presence of the Head Mam she shyly handed over the sketchbook to him. She had beautifully sketched portraits of Albert Einstein, Issac Newton and Emily Dickson. The Judges were highly impressed with her talent, more so when they were told that Yashika was an autistic child. The main judge asked Yashika ,” what is your name ?” Yashika stood there thinking and then with staggered voice she said, “ Y..shi…kaaa.”
“Who are these ?” one of Judges asked her turning the pages of the sketch book.
Yashika again kept quite for a while. She was watching her feet and then replied, “ I ” “ All I “
Her answer though, was unexpected. It was something deep which touched the core of the heart of the Judges. The answer kept resounded in the minds of all the judges. It was clear that she had associated herself with these famous ones as these celebrities were themselves plagued with SAD syndrome. The portraits were sketched to the minute details making them come alive that made Judges to gush about her impressive talent.

 All children were asked to assemble in the auditorium along with their parents. Results were announced. The second best talent trophy was bagged by Yashika. As soon as Yashika heard her name, she shouted and kept on shouting till she was hugged tightly by Lalita. She went with Yashika to the podium. Everyone gave them a standing ovation. Yashika was so happy that she went to Head mam and kissed her repeatedly. The main judge who was also the Chairman of a famous arts school in the town, announced grant of admission and scholarship to Yashika in his school. Lalita could not believe the turn of events. Tears rolled down her cheek and young Yashika ran towards her whipping her tears with her small hands. Yashika had crossed main hurdle and the end goal seemed to be nearer than far as her name actually meant- Glorious.
All rights reserved/Tribhawan Kaul
1630 words


  1. Arindam Roy
    April 26 at 10:50pm
    Fantastic form. An amazing story from a master storyteller, Tribhawan Kaul ji. Thanks for enriching the Special Issue on Autism.
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  2. Manju Gulrajani
    April 27 at 7:15am
    Very touching
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  3. Shelleyandra Kapil
    April 27 at 7:15am
    Good morning, I could read the story, Never lose heart, Well expressed. There is every day for a new start.
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  4. Anil Sahai
    April 27 at 11:59am
    Very true story, congrats!!
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  5. V A Sambandam
    April 27 at 7:19pm
    Wowwww..What a lovely,interesting & touching short story from my dear international poet TK.
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