Recently I spoke to a girl whose sister is deaf. This one comment from her struck me deep inside, “She is deaf, but why is my life so silent?” . At first, I could not understand what she meant. But then she opened up. Here is what she had to say,
“I used to be a cynosure of my parent’s eyes. A pretty baby, everyone called me. Until, my sister Rehaana (name changed) was born. Since then, all my parents attention has shifted to my sister. I have begun to feel left out. I understand that Rehaana needs much more attention. But what about me? Why does mom not ask me how was my day at school? Why all she asks for is given to her while I have to justify even the basic of my need? Wherever I go, people do not ask me how I am but how she is? Sometimes, I feel pity for her ; sometimes jealousy. It’s not that I do not love my sister. But I do wish at times, I had a normal sibling. I cannot show these emotions to her when she is around. Sometimes, it seems she too notices these things and tries taking to mom. Sometimes mom too tries to talk it out to me. But just then something or the other happens and mom has to rush to take care of Rehaana. Just the other day, ma and papa were coming to my annual day. I was so excited that they would be watching me perform. But just on the same day, someone mocked Rehaana and mom was called to her school as Rehaana would not stop crying. Why could she not realize it was my day that day?
It is as if she is deaf, but the silence is in my life…”
I have been thinking about her words since then. How difficult is it to have a sibling who is not ‘normal’ by societal definitions? How about the parents? It’s not that they intentionally neglect their other daughter. How should parents of differently-abled kids manage this tough challenge of not making their other child feel neglected while also giving extra care to the former child? I have spoken to a lot of parents during writing my book ‘Because Life Is A Gift’ and a lot of the parents indeed preferred not to have a second child if there first child was differently-abled. But surely that is not the solution..
What should then be the answer to this..