Writers International Edition

‘Brushstrokes of Hope: Adwik’s Technicolor Triumph’: An Excerpt from Life by Ajit Manjappa

Adwik is a 7 year old autistic boy and carries a label of being in “Borderline Intellectual Function” category.

As we reached the venue, we were soaked into the atmosphere of a celebration. Within minutes, as usual, I found myself consoling, cajoling a irritated and overwhelmed Adwik. The usual statements of ” it will be over soon”, ” this is the last speech, I Promise” , ” its almost over” and a few stern warnings “Adwik! Be a good boy” “Adwik! Please be quiet for 5mins” , and equally usual was his unchanging, stiff mood and desperation trying to escape the venue.

I never craved for a win, a prize in my own school competitions. I always thought those are beyond my interests, but this day, surprisingly, I craved so desperately for Adwik to get something in his hands, I wanted to see him being awarded on the stage. I somehow thought it would make him happy. A father in me was ready to fight for it.

We participated in two competitions, a ‘ball throw’ and ‘colouring’.

The first one went very well, Adwik threw the ball way-off the target but HE THREW THE BALL!! while standing on the marking, as the rules of the game demanded. I would argue, though, that the target was placed wrong, it should have been placed where my son was throwing the ball.

And then, We were supposed to colour a drawing sheet which had the outline of 3 apples on a branch. It tooks some 4 trials of positioning the paper the right way for Adwik to start coloring. We finished coloring after 10minutes of actual end of time.

While the head-boy of the school collected all the colored sheets, I noticed all the other participants’ sheets and a definite reason as to why we would win, I thought to myself – Adwik has a great chance of winning this.

This is what Adwik submitted for the competition. A sure winner right?
You will soon echo with me. Read on.

I browsed every other entry of the colored apples, and all apples were red. They were supposed to be red , right? It is a rule which was fed into minds.

Adwik tooks rules of colouring competition into his own hands and imagined three apples of three different colours and none to be red. Coloring or art is an expression of imagination, not establishing facts. And that is what he did.

So the results?

Red apples won!

My face was bloodshot when Adwik’s name was never called upon.

As we rode back on my scooter with Adwik standing in front, I looked over his shoulders on to the road trying to imagine what he felt of all the proceedings of past 2hours. He remained and looked unaffected, and just enjoyed the cool breeze over his face, sometimes looking up in the sky.

I was filled with anguish and ever existing feelings of dejections, sadness of not getting small wishes my way surfaced. It wouldn’t have been a big deal to make a kid feel happy for his efforts, but it wasn’t to be.

As in most such times, God dropped in a thought which said-

“Go celebrate”

And so we did. There’s no reason not to celebrate. We enjoyed over a cup of cane juice.

Sweet – the cane juice, the day, our life and Adwik!

PS: Adwik did get something that day. One of the senior teacher did notice his efforts and awarded something. A lunch box and a pack of biscuits. There is Hope, after all!

By Ajit Manjappa

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