Our Own Language

‘I had adopted a six month old baby, so that I could easily feed him with my hand. When he would move and crawl that was a problem, so we would never put him on a bed, we would spread a mattress on the ground instead. Even sighted parents have experienced that they have put the child on the cot and they aren’t paying attention and the child falls. But if we take care, then nothing like that happens at all. Fortunately, by God’s grace my son never put dirt or objects in his mouth. Also someone or the other – my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my nieces, etc- would be there to pay attention to him. Even when I joined an office, I could go tension free, because my family supported me a lot. Even when Om couldn’t speak, we had built our own way of communication. Once he wanted a spoon to play with, and I couldn’t understand what he was saying. So he pulled my saree, and crawled while dragging me to the kitchen. He asked me (non-verbally) to pick him up. I picked him and he grabbed a spoon from the stand, got down and crawled away happily. My son never had the feeling that my mother is less in any aspect. He is always been proud of his mother. Last year when he was in second, I won the National award. So I was invited in his school as a chief guest. He also feels that, “My mother can’t see, still she has done so much in life and reached where she is.” He is very happy with his mother. When we go for functions and all, he says that he will take his mummy to the stage. He will tell his father, “Don’t worry I will take care of her.”…His father looks into his studies. I only can’t supervise his writing, the rest even I can handle because I am actually a graduate. For one year I had even sent him for tuitions, now I don’t. He studies almost entirely on his own.’

Neha Pavaskar, 36, visually impaired

Mother Of Two

‘Till my baby was three months old, my mother would do everything, because I was staying with her. Then I came to my house and discovered that I couldn’t do everything. So my husband helped me. I would apply soap while bathing him; my husband would pour the water. Then we would get him dressed, and only then he would go to work. My baby was also sweet, he didn’t trouble me much. We would not let him go out, because I couldn’t run or walk fast. So my husband had got a wide variety of toys for him home, so that he could sit and play. In the evenings, when my husband returned from work, he would take him out for a stroll and then bring him back. When I conceived for the second time, it was not too troublesome to handle my elder son. Because I had learnt to take care of him, and also because he was four years old, he would manage many things -like eating food- on his own. The older one also helped me in taking care of the younger one. My kid also understands and says, “Ammi you can’t come to school. There are many steps inside. You won’t be able to walk that much, so let it be. I will take abba for the meeting.”‘

Jairrunisha Razar Shaikh , 34, polio-affected

Mother In A Wheelchair

‘I’ve been in a wheelchair since I had a car accident when I was 16. I’d always wanted to be a mother and a year after I got married, I had my first son. When the children were young I got by through designing and modifying things to suit my needs. When they were babies I had them on a sheepskin with two wooden handles so I could pick them up. When they started crawling they’d wear a little harness or I’d dress them in overalls. I had a change table and bassinette modified to suit my chair, and used a bath that supported the babies well. The hardest part when the children were young, was the isolation. We were living in a semi-rural area and I was very much confined to the house while my husband worked. Getting outside was difficult, so I couldn’t play with the children in the garden as much as I’d have liked – I had to rely on my mum a bit for that. Even though I drive, getting to the shops and leaving the house is quite an ordeal when you’ve got to put the kids in the car and put your chair in too. So I tended to stay at home and because of that I had a really solid routine. I think that helped a lot. But it was tiring. Lifting nappy buckets and all those things are very tiring when you’re in a wheelchair. But it wasn’t just physical isolation. I felt a lot of frustration and could get depressed when I just couldn’t do the things I wanted to do because I was so isolated and tired. I was lucky because I had a supportive husband, and when we went out he had to change the children because I didn’t have the special table. But this was frustrating too. My approach has always been that I’m a mother before I’m a person with a disability. I tried really hard to be part of the children’s lives. I went on the kindergarten committee to make the kindergarten wheelchair accessible, and I did fruit duty and reading. I’ve done spinal injury awareness talks at the children’s schools and have been as much a part of my children’s recreational activities as I could – the calisthenics committee, and racing around the three phases of dressage, show jumping and cross-country in my three-wheel motorbike. Now one son is an Olympic athlete and my daughter is getting there in equestrian events.’

Anita, wheelchair-bound after spinal injury External Website that opens in new a window