Friday, July 13, 2012

Every new day is another chance to change your life

Its been amazing to watch Amrit's transition from a young restless girl to a much mature young lady. She is far more adaptive and open to change now. She has religiously followed her gym routine and has also learned to swim a little. She has wonderfully managed to travel all the way to the Academy of Fine arts and Literature through the summer break to train at the gallery of renowned artist Arpana Caur. She now makes really good tea and is lending a helping hand in so many chores in the house. We cannot but feel proud at her achievements. Here's a look at her latest paintings.

When the days wear long and it seems I can barely hold on, I close my eyes and think of you. And just as the warmth of the sun touches my skin, I recall how you have touched my heart- Amanda Prescott

We have always seen our life with Amrit as a journey and our journey has taken us on many different roads. There have been  turns here and there that have filled our life with all different kinds of challenges, obstacles and changes. But we've always made it through those times because God has always placed someone in our path to bring us some encouragement, strength, kindness, knowledge and hope.

Creating this blog has given me the perfect opportunity to do something that I have always wanted to do.  I would like to thank some wonderful earth angels who have been instrumental in helping Amrit reach where she is today.  These are the people who have somehow touched our life, wonderful people who stepped into our path of life for just a short time. Nevertheless, they have left their footprints on our heart and have  left me with some sort of inspiration.

At one time or another, the people I'm about to mention, have somehow shared their lives with us. A lot of things they've said to me and things they've done for Amrit will always be held close within my heart.  I have many beautiful memories and cherish each and every one of them.  

The first and foremost in the list I wish to thank is Mrs. Meenakshi Dixit, Chairperson, Doon Blossoms School, Dehradun. She is the amazing lady who gave Amrit the first feel of a school. There were days when Amrit would not confine to the so called school rules, but she was never singled out. She would rummage through Mam’s kitchen, mixing up the spices and other rations but was never pointed at. I still remember how she would slip into her house and refuse to move back to the classroom. From play group to grade five, she held on to my daughter’s hand and I will ever be grateful for those formative years.

Amrit was also lucky to have wonderful teachers like Rashmi Verma, Amita Rawat, Poorva and Vibha who held her hand through those difficult years when she was lost in her own world, trying to come to terms with the different world around her. These wonderful ladies taught her phonetics and I still remember the first time Amrit read a newspaper headline, all thanks to Rashmi who taught her letter recognition and Amita mam who grilled her with phonetics, today my daughter loves to read the newspaper.

In grade five, we moved Amrit to yet another wonderful, secure setup of Selaqui World School where she realized her passion in life, her love for Art under the guidance of Mr. Sujit Das. Sujit Sir recognized and nurtured her talent and gave her the confidence to bloom and flourish, to give words to her feelings through the brush. He gave her the exposure to widen her horizons and helped us to understand the direction her life was to take. Much to his credit, Amrit filled the canvas of her life with vibrant colours and hope and love that she will cherish forever.

It was time to move again. After five years at Selaqui, we moved Amrit in the lap of serenity, calm and beautiful location of Kasiga School. Once again she was fortunate to have a mentor in the form of Mr. Bapun Dutta who nurtured her talent further. She would sit at her table by the window, looking out to the beautiful landscape that surrounded the place and paint it on her canvas.

Two years later I once again moved and this time the shift has had a major implication on our lives. I joined Pathways School, Noida and it is here that Amrit has found her calling. It’s here that my girl is exactly who she is, welcomed into a community who viscerally understands what it means to be different – by any degree, by people who respect her enough to meet her exactly where she is and tell her – and show her – that it’s perfect. Thank You Pathways for reaching out to Amrit and for all that you do each and every day. So many wonderful people have filled her Life's canvas and have extended support and showered her with such positivity and love for which I will be eternally grateful. Here she has matured as an artist and painter under the guidance of Mr. Anil Goswami, who has given a direction to her work and a true meaning to her life.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Autism is not something I have. It is integral to who I am.

Autism is not a puzzle, nor a disease. Autism is a challenge .Autism is about having a pure heart and being very sensitive… It is about finding a way to survive in an overwhelming, confusing world… It is about developing differently, in a different pace and with different leaps.

I know many people will disagree with this, but both me and my husband feel that Amrit was given to us for a reason. She is our daughter by design, and we were meant to be together. If one believes in reincarnation, perhaps we are furthering our spiritual development by continuing to work on whatever "stuff" we had in a past life together---it's an interesting idea, isn't it? At any rate, here we are together in this life, and we believe there is a definite purpose involved. I'm not sure what the lesson is for Amrit, but for us it is love, love, LOVE. Learning to love without limits, loving when we are tired, cranky, sad, at the end of our rope, when one feels that there is nothing left to love with---we must still go on loving. And this lesson we learnt by a chance encounter with Dr. Jyoti Sharma, a gyneacologist in Dehradun. She told us that we were the chosen one, one whom God has faith in that they will care for and look after this special child of his, this pure, simply wonderful creation. It touched our souls and that day we became different with our daughter's difference.

Friday, March 16, 2012

MY Proud Moments at the School Art Fair

It has been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it maker and beholder meet.  ~Kojiro Tomita

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.  ~Stella Adler 

I don't paint things.  I only paint the difference between things.  ~Henri Matisse

To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist. ~Schumann

An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one. ~Charles Horton Cooley

Louise Nevelson
Art is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind.

“A piece of art is never a finished work. It answers a question which has been asked, and asks a new question.” ~Robert Engman

My Life- My Canvas



City Scape


The Colour Palette

The Maze

My Life's Landscape

Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye

Flock Of Birds



I Paint..........

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Proud Moment-My work display in the school art exhibition

Amrit’s journey from the isolation and limitations of her early years to the vastly increased social integration and competence she enjoys today has been a truly amazing experience for both of us.
She began drawing at the age of approximately six and impressed her teachers by her spontaneous control and meticulous accuracy. Her favourite subject matter was landscapes and animals. Art to her came as natural as breathing.  She would catch a fleeting glimpse of a running horse and recreate it perfectly.
Painting is her release — her escape — her way to fit into a noisy and disordered world, her way to connect with the people around her. She creates and performs because she is compelled to by the forces that make her unique, but she also does so because it brings her tremendous joy. She uses no models for her drawings, but draws from images seen only once, on television or in a book. She has perfect recall but often adds her own touches, interpretations or improvisation to the images.

She established an incredible connection with colours, patterns and rhythms at an early age. Of late
her works are largely architectural or of cityscapes. Under the guidance of her teacher and mentor, Mr. Anil Goswami, her work has seen a major shift from naturescapes to abstraction. She has blossomed as a more mature artist where she doesn’t hesitate to experiment with textures. With his subtle nudging and prodding, he has succeeded in showing her the right direction. His timely inputs have led her to develop her unique meditative expression.She is using lot of vibrant hues. The lines and angles of each facade have been rendered with photographic accuracy; the colors, on the other hand, are blithely surreal.
Her work may not appear communicative, yet it does articulate something, and that something may well be saturated with hidden affect. Her work is a mark of a coherent private world conjured up in the sweep of imagery of an individual creator. Provided we as viewers can entertain the fantasy of travelling into that world—in the same way that we might travel into a foreign country with no knowledge of its language or customs—we are in a position to savour the extreme experience of otherness.

What AUTISM means to me



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Don't force me to be NORMAL. I am just different.

                                      The journey begins...

A tiny white bundle entered my world on the 8th of August,1993. One look at the little angel changed my world forever. We named her Amrit, the nectar of life. Being a parent is the beginning of a journey and our journey began with Amrit, little did we realise then that it would be a life long special journey.
Amrit filled our lives with joy and turbulation, each hitting us in phases. She started achieving all her milestones quite normally and it was such a joy to see her hold her neck, to see her hold a spoon, her first crawl,  her first step,  and then one day suddenly she went into withdrawl refusing to utter a word.She became quiet, as if somebody had turned on the mute button. We coaxed and cajoled but she chose not to respond. Being our first born, we labelled it a result of over pampering. Time passed and with each passing day, our hopes and desire to hear our angel speak also dashed. I was dying to hear her say 'Mamma'.
Amrit crossed 2 years and it was time to admit her to a play school. The question was how? She did not communicate. How would she express her needs? Who would understand my darling's unspoken expression? Who would understand her need for basic things? My little angel shirked from physical contact, she did not understand play, she laughed when somebody fell; how would she , a delicate, small baby cope with all the strangers around? I felt restless, unable to make a decision, I prayed to God for a miracle. I hoped that with kids around her she would suddenly resume normal conversation, all the time believing that there was nothing amiss in her development.

Holding my fingers, we walked inside the gates of the school. More than Amrit, I was nervous to let her go. Amrit, oblivious to the new phase she was entering, was smiling. I was asked to wait outside the school gates. I held on to my breath, waiting to hear the first call of panic from my angel, waiting to rush inside, to hold her in my arms, to comfort her, to wipe those tears streaming down those beautiful, big eyes. And all the time wishing that it wouldn't happen, wishing that like all other kids, she too would come out of her class, excited to share the details of her first day with me. But my fears came true with Amrit yelling and screaming and crying,  refusing to take off her shoes, not ready to sit in a room full of strange faces. I quietly brought her back home.
Amrit gradually started displaying compulsive attitude. She refused to put off her shoes, so much so that she would sleep with her shoes on. So we got her 3 pairs of the same shoes. She would not let go off the sachet of clinic plus shampoo. Her palms would be sweaty and smelly but she held on to the sachet for months. So we would replace the sachet with a new one everyday.  She would outgrow obsession for one object to be glued to another.

She could not adjust in her school and we decided that the school was not good for her needs, little did we realize even then that there was a problem with her. I decided to look for a better school and then I came across the school that mentored and treasured my darling, a school that accepted her difference, a school where the teachers treated her in a special way and yet did not shun her. This was Doon Blossoms.

I joined the school along with Amrit thinking it was the best possible way to be near her, to assure her and to look after her if need be. Amrit had beautiful long hair which she refused to tie. She did not want to wear socks and shoes suddenly. She was a sight in a school where all other children were immaculately dressed. I would cry with embarrassment and think of ways to hide her whenever we had visitors to school. I was myself a play group teacher and tried to shield her inadequacies as best as possible.

It took me more than six months to come to terms with the fact that Amrit did not behave like other kids and it was then that we began the rounds to the doctors. Any doctor, any institute suggested, we would make sure to visit. It was frustrating. No body was able to help, to guide. I don't think words can describe the way me and my husband felt. Our life was in turmoil.The unease from sensing that something was wrong, the seemingly interminable and relentless quest to find out what the problem is did take a toll but whenever we looked at the smiling face of our daughter and her carefree world, no matter hoe different it was, kept us going with a renewed energy.

We approached institutes that worked for mentally retarded children but did not have the heart to put our daughter there. We then accidentally stumbled upon a speech therapist who agreed to come home to give speech therapy to Amrit. It was hard work for 2 years. The therapist gently guided Amrit into the world of words. I vividly remember the day when after a month of the therapy, Amrit still would use gestures after the therapist left to ask for milk or water. She would hold my hand with her little hand and show me the object of her desire and I being a mother would quickly give it to her. It was then that the therapist came down firmly on me. She waited even after the session and did not let me give Amrit water unless she spoke the word water. My darling cried and cried, her throat getting parched, but refusing to utter the word and the therapist would not allow me to get up. After what seemed like an eternity, she finally said water and that was her first word. How we cried at our accomplishment. It was later that we started to find happiness in simple accomplishments, what may be an easy, simple chore for all of us, was an accomplishment for Amrit.
There are so many firsts etched in my memory; the first word water, the first poem that she sang, the first time she learned to spit, the first meal she had all by herself the first time she learned to cycle, the first time she stood before her dad on a scooter ride. It seems like yesterday.

There were days when I would end up in sheer frustration.  I remember so many days when both of us would break down into tears not being able to cope up, not being able to understand what to do. Friends, neighbors pitched in. I will always be indebted to so many who helped me cope up, who held me strong when I was on the verge of breaking.

One day my husband stumbled upon a newspaper article on Autism( the first time we heard the word) that also described certain typical symptoms and we discovered that Amrit fit so well in all that was mentioned. That marked our journey into the world of autism which continues even today. We searched libraries for more information, we spoke to friends, doctors, anyone who had heard anything about autism. Internet was new those days and I sat glued to the screen in a cyber cafe for hours looking for some insight, some input. There was anger, frustration, sadness- this was happening to us! The question was Why? Why me?
It took us time to come to terms with the fact that Amrit was autistic. Once realization set in, there was more confusion, more anger; acceptance came later. Like all parents whose children are diagnosed AUTISTIC, our little world seemed to crumble and fall. We had to mourn the loss of the life our daughter was supposed to have.  She will probably never have a friend and get married, she will need life long care and support, who will take care of her once we are dead and gone. Nobody realized the impact it had on me and my husband. For a while we were even angry with ourselves.

I turned overtly religious, praying for miracles everyday. We began to believe in magic and superstitions. We began approaching holy men, hoping that would give us a magic potion to cure our daughter. Along side we were doing rounds of visits to doctors, psychiatrists, neurosurgeons, pediatricians and what not.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Am I different? I often wonder? I look like you but I think so differently. My world and your world-look the same yet so different. Why? I don't understand your world.

Our Journey.
Abide with me, as I journey
take my hand, I dare not walk alone.
Lean on me, when life gets weary,
I will help you, 'til we're grown.

Sometimes I won't know your sorrow,
you may not always see my tears,
if you stumble on your journey,
I will lift you... calm your fears.

One day we will know the answer
to that searching question....Why?
Yet for now, we'll walk together
hand in hand, as life goes by.

Our pathway is not lined with roses
but there is magic in a smile,
this road we travel may be lonely
but there are rainbows once in a while.

Help me as I climb my mountain,
in the valley I have grown
put your weary hand in my hand,
we cannot, dare not, walk alone.

(an excerpt from the book
One More Blessing
the story of a small boy
and his struggle with autism)