From this list of things that can break, can you guess which one is the most difficult to put back together? Or impossible to replace? If we know the answer, which is quite obvious I’m sure, then I guess the question is…Why do we do it? Why does the human break hearts, knowing that it will cause irreversible damage to the soul? We do it unintentionally, most of the time and because of that we are usually forgiven. But sometimes it is done intentionally, and there is no justification for that. None.
I was volunteering at the Madressah last week, taking a kindergarten class when I was called down to the principal’s office. When I walked into the room, there was a meeting going on between the principle and a lady, who didn’t look familiar. She had two boys who were sitting on the chairs in the back of the room, poking each other and giggling about it. I assumed the meeting was about the boys’ registration and that they were going to be a new addition to the student body. While the parent and the principle had their meeting, I waited in the back with the kids, watching them giggling and teasing each other gaily. The two boys were dressed in spotless white collar shirts which gave them a look of smartness and good little angels, along with the black leather jackets on top that screamed: Don’t let the shirt fool you. They were going to fit in just right. As I watched them play their game of “Let’s poke each other and laugh about it till we’re red in the face”, I couldn’t help but notice something different about one of them. He showed signs of a form of Down syndrome by the way he spoke, but I could not make out which kind or how severe his Down syndrome was exactly. I didn’t give much thought to it either, and went on ahead to introduce myself. They were really sweet and shook my hands right away, telling me their names: Ali was the older one, he was 6 and a half and suffering from down syndrome and the younger one was Hassan, who was 5. I smiled and took a seat beside them and we waited for the meeting to finish. “HEY! you want to be my buddy?”, Ali asked with so much enthusiasm and cuteness that it made me smile in awe. The more excitement I saw on their adorable faces, the more excited I became to welcome them to our small community. “I would love to be your buddy!”, I replied back, and he gave me a fist pound. Their cuteness was infectious and it left me smiling at them as they talked amongst themselves.
Soon after, I heard the principal call my name, so I walked up to her wondering what she had in mind for me. “True, I would like you to meet Mrs. Asif.”, she said politely, gesturing her hand toward the lady sitting across from her. I looked at the lady and said Salam and she replied back softly with a pretty smile. “Her boys, Ali and Hassan are going to be joining Kindergarten from today, and since you’re taking the class, I thought it might be a good idea if you took them to their class and introduced them to the students.”, the principal continued. “Sure thing!” I said, nodding my head and turned to tell the boys the good news. Right when I was about to leave to take the boys downstairs, their mom put her hand on my arm, as if to stop me. Or perhaps, warn me about something. She had a worried look on her face, and spoke in a low voice. “You see sister, my eldest son Ali, has Down syndrome…and he does speak out and get too excited sometimes”, she spoke as if it was a horrible thing. What kind of child doesn't speak out? Or, get hyper about something? Humans tend to be most enthusiastic and energetic when they are young, so I couldn’t really make out why she sounded so scared as she spoke. “He does behave well, and listen to the teacher but if he causes any problems please let me know”, she continued nervously. The way she spoke, reminded me of someone at their first interview for a job. The cracking voice, the tension in the eyes, the fear of being rejected or embarrassed. She showed all those signs. I put my hand on hers and reassured her that her kids were going to be safe and have a great time at Sunday school. She exchanged looks with the principal who also gave her a reassuring smile and asked me to take the boys to their class.
As I walked the kids to their classroom they were excited as ever, and skipped on ahead of me. Ali ran on ahead to open the door, that lead to the classroom hallway and bumped into a lady that was carrying a tray of empty plastic cups and plates. She was the lunch volunteer, and was on her way to the kitchen to get things ready for lunch. Her collision with Ali left the cups flying and scattered all over the floor. He backed up right away, with a scared look on his face and whispered a “sorry” in his tiny voice. The whole while the lady gave him a fuming glare, and began to shout at him. “Why are you skipping in the halls? You know that’s not allowed right? Look at what you have done!!”, she ranted and pointed to the plates and cups scattered on the floor. Before I could interrupt her and inform her that these kids are new, and that it was only an accident, she stormed out the door mumbling something to herself. I couldn’t make out what she said, but Ali’s mom who was standing by the door as the lady passed her did. Her face immediately had that sorry look that you get when you feel guilty about something. That was when I realised what the conversation I had with her in the principal’s office was about. She was scared of people’s judging eyes towards her son. She worried about her kids getting into trouble because some grownups are too moronic to understand that children are only children. They are supposed to cause accidents and make mistakes, and we as adults are supposed to forgive them, and teach them the difference between right and wrong. Apparently, for some people that small concept is too difficult to grasp, and so they let their hateful words and actions break others’ hearts.
I don’t know how Ali’s mom must have felt when that happened, but I did see the reason behind her nervousness. Small accidents like these were what kept her from letting her kids be on their own and enjoy life. I wasn’t able to make eye contact with her after that, but to myself I did wonder about how many times she had been in a situation like this? Where people are too inconsiderate of other’s feelings and go around breaking hearts. I wondered how the lunch lady would have reacted if her collision was with just another kid who didn’t have down syndrome? Does having a disability make it wrong for you to make mistakes?
- Title: Broken strings – James Morrison
- Pictures: Google images