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Ma’am was telling another ma’am that our school shouldn’t put children like me with the nor-mal ones. Because of dis-trac-tion. What does that mean?
Our Muse of the Month series this year focus on stories that pass the Bechdel test, and are written on inspiration from a new prompt every month. This month, the prompt was “Normal Is Overrated”, and the story should pass the Bechdel Test, that is,
The fifth winner of our January 2018 Muse of the Month contest is Sadaf Vidha.
The water kept running through the strainer even though the peas had long been washed. Like many things that happen around us, I kept up the act of washing even though the purpose was long achieved. Maybe I needed to get my thoughts straight before I answered my daughter.
She had come back from school and perched herself on the window sill in the kitchen.
“Mumma, what’s a nor-mal?”
She was just seven and while I know integration and inclusion in Indian schools is a bit of a sham, I did not expect her to be so perceptive to that fact at this age. I was wondering what would be a good response. I decided to use the age old technique: answer with a question.
“Who told you about that?”
“Ma’am was telling another ma’am that our school shouldn’t put children like me with the nor-mal ones. Because of dis-trac-tion. What does that mean?”
I sighed. I thought I’d have this conversation with her at a much later time in her life.
I looked at the peas in the strainer. I told her to come to the sink.
“Can you see these peas I’m washing?”
“Can you see that most of the peas are collected together at the bottom? And then there are some that are stuck here and there on the strainer – near the edges, on the rim and in between?’
“So normal is all the peas that are stuck together at the center and the bottom. Normal is not good or bad, its just what most people are. And sometimes, normal are scared of people on the edges because they are so far from them.”
“I see. But do the peas on the edge and the bottom taste the same?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“Okay then”, she said, and grabbed some raw peas to munch on. I normally did not let her have raw peas because they could lead to stomach ache, but today, I didn’t mind.
I admit that it’s not easy to deal with a child who has a learning disability and ADHD, and I’m sure she moves about a lot in the class and gives her teachers a tough time. But I also know that her project was the one that got selected at the national level science competition. I know that she remembers the birthdays of all of her friends, family and extended relatives. She makes hand-made gifts for all of them. I know she has an entourage of cats and dogs in our society compound that she looks after. She may not be “normal” but she is kind and loving and brilliant.
I know that my daughter is meant for great things. Yes, having a “normal” child would be easier and more peaceful. But I choose great over easy. I choose great over normal. Normal is overrated.
Sadaf Vidha wins a Rs 250 Amazon voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the top winners at the end of 2018. Congratulations!
Image source: pixabay