Scientifically speaking the term ‘mad’ doesn’t exist,still most people knowingly or unknowingly use the term mad instead of mentally disturbed. What I feel is that they aren’t different from us, they aren’t unusual but they are simply SPECIAL. You know why do I use the term special here, because they can see feel happiness around them more than anyone else.
Last week I visited the ‘hope for men centre’ in Bangalore, which is home for over 180 mentally challenged men. No, when i entered the place i did not like it; i did not like the huge iron gate which had a small door through which i squeeze myself and enter like a prison, I did not like the rotting smell that rushed through my nose even before I moved hardly five steps from the gate and i did not like so many pair of eyes gleaming at me.
I had never in my life before visited such a place and hence I was both baffled and amazed.
Why baffled? You may ask me…I am being honest because I didn’t know how to react. My trip to that place wasn’t planned, I just tagged along with my friends to give them company and hence I wasn’t prepared to handle my emotions.
As soon as I reached there the first thing I noticed was a yellow teethed man, sitting on the ground and pouring mud on his feet, probably making a dream castle of his own, the one he might have dreamt of building in reality sometime ago.
Then somewhere else there was this man lying on the ground trying to swim in mud, happily singing something no one understood.
Oh ya I forgot to mention why I was amazed. I was assigned to assist the nurses there. What I was supposed to do was to pass all the medical items, while she cleaned and tended to their wounds. I thought I was this superhuman who could handle everything, after all what was I supposed to do, just pass on those medical kits . Trust me when I say this, it wasn’t easy.
By the time I went out of that place, I felt the sisters deserved huge applauses for working there. After reading the next para you will exactly understand why I say this.
There was this man called Josephs. When I saw him he was on a wheelchair, he sat there like a statue keeping one hand over his head. My attention went towards his hand, beneath that I saw some bandages and cotton piled up. It took me some time to realise why he had those bandages. His head I realised, was one fourth cut from top and he had no skull. Imagine this exactly how I wrote it, yes that’s right no skull.
The sisters turned towards me and told me to go away from there, she told me not to stand there as I wouldn’t be able to handle the sight of what lay beneath those bandages. Having a stubborn attitude that I posses, I told her that I could handle it and I was doing fine standing there. After my continual denials to leave, she let me be there, near Josephs who still sat expression less.
Sister cut of his bandage and removed the cotton stuffed in the hollow of his skull, what I saw next was something I won’t forget in a lifetime. There were worms inside his head, not big one’s… Small white colored with greasy coating on them, more than 50 worms.
As sister proceeded to remove those, my attention was fixed on those worms. I wanted to shout out loud because Josephs wasn’t doing so. He sat there like everything’s fine, just once or twice he jumped from his seat maybe because the pair of tongs with which sister removed those worms tickled him , I don’t know
After 5 minutes of watching that scene I felt nausea creep over me, no I didn’t vomit or faint or scream. I felt a gush of emotions , I couldn’t stand anymore. I went to a nearby boundary wall and sat over there…I watched Josephs being repaired.
Not just Josephs, there was someone without his fingers on his left foot, then there was someone else who had no skin in his right arm and many more like them. Most of them picked up from the streets , many of them beggars and many of them drug addicts all of them suffering from some form of mental illness.
When it was time to go home I realised I have learnt very important lessons of my life from this place – firstly not all big iron gates mean imprisonment; some of them mean safety, secondly not all people who gaze with big eyes mean bad ;some mean happiness at finding someone they can spend time with and lastly not all bad smells mean that you have to get away from them ;some mean that you can adjust to them and regard them as special.
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