27 Nov Hello Hazel!
It has been exactly six months today when we first met. And when I told Hazel about this, she instantly danced with joy. Her charming smile is enough to make anyone’s day. She loves to wear floral skirts and midis, with matching headbands. She creates a laughter riot amongst the other kids in the class by intimating goofy, her pup.
Hazel was the first child of Mr. & Mrs Gupta. Doctors had warned them about the complications and risks during the delivery. But they believed that God would not let anything happen to her. And Hazel came to this beautiful world. As months passed on, her mother noticed that she performed her normal activities lately unlike other children of her age. Her parents became more anxious as Hazel found difficult to speak and listen. They soon consulted the doctor and came to know she is a mentally retarded child. On hearing this, the ground beneath their feet slipped away.
At the age of four, her parents decided to start sending her to the preschool. They never considered her as a special child; instead, they treated her with the love, affection, and respect. After all, she was their little Hazel. They did not send her to the special care institutes for mentally retarded children. Instead, they insisted to send her to the same school as other children.
On her very first day to the playschool, she entered her class with the same enthusiasm and nervousness as other kids. There I (Ms Maya Fernandez) met my student wearing a Barbie backpack and the sweetest smile. She looked at me as if she had a quest for learning everything around. She grabbed my hand with her little fingers and walked into the class, bidding a kiss to goofy and waving to her parents. Her parents had told me about her condition before. It took me time to digest those words, but I had a strong belief that Hazel will stand out from the rest. I assured them that I would always be there to guide her and take care of her in every possible way.
Undoubtedly, Hazel was different from the rest of the children in the class. She explored things in her own way. The way she acted, reacted, spoke, listened was something which only I was able to understand in the class. She loved to sing the rhyme twinkle black sheep… She skillfully participated in every activity, and most of the time, she proved to be a winner. Her favourite number was one, just the way she stood ahead in every activity. On getting stars and chocolates in her maths notebook, she shook her hands with everyone in the class. She would make the entire class dance to her favourite bum dance. Within no days, she became the star of the entire class and the dearest to me.
There were days when she would scream, faint, throw things violently while some days, she would puke or pee in the class due to fear or anxiety. Her parents used to take her for regular health check-ups. Doctors advised her parents to give her complete rest as the conditions turned worse day-by-day. But, like her inky-pinky promise, I always believed in her. I stood by her to guard her against the traumas.
Everyone noticed the pain she went through, but no one noticed the ray of hope that Hazel was bringing along. I noticed she was getting too comfortable with brushes and colours. She could paint her own world full of beauty and life. I advised Mr. & Mrs Gupta to let her follow her passion. They were delighted to know about Hazel’s interest in painting. But they were equally concerned about the challenges of this ever-changing world.
By God’s grace, everything turned out to be best for Hazel. Her interest in painting turned out to be intense every passing day. Her paintings could speak volumes. She painted every wall of her room with the feelings difficult to express. She transformed into a person who could beautifully express, evoke her chaotic emotions through colours. Everyone discovered a new Hazel – the one with brushes. The girl who stood against all the odds of life and proved to be the best version of herself.
Today, at the Annual Painting exhibition looking at every emotion of yours, I would proudly want to say –
“You are very special, dear.
And you have nothing to fear.
You hold a zillion of stars,
Stand up hazel, and face the scars.
You own the entire world with your billion dollar smile,
Never fear to walk an extra mile.
You are the special diamond with the precious shine,
When you feel worn out, it is better to whine.
Let the world know you by your uniqueness,
And never fail to be the unapologetically you”
Listening to Ms Maya, Hazel ran to the stage to hug her biggest supporter ever