A Broken Doll ------ 1
I was in Class III when a little girl was brought into our class. We were thirty girls. We were curious about her because we could make out she was different. We stared shamelessly at her. She had a ragged doll in her hand and she continuously chewed on the corner of her hanky. Her head was tilted to one side as if it was a bit heavy for her neck. She wore a different uniform. Most of us thought that was because she had changed her school. In fact she had come to our school after being to a special school. She created a ruckus when her mother made to leave. So her mother sat with her.
"Miss......," asked someone, "will this girl sit with us?"
"This girl has a name dear," replied the teacher, a middle-aged lady called Mrs P. "Why don't you ask her her name" the teacher suggested.
"What is your name?" asked Shanti.
The girl turned her face away not wanting to interact. Shanti looked to Mrs P for help. Mrs P obliged. "This is Sudha, she is new to our school."
"Is her mother allowed to sit in class?" asked Ramona, another student.
"Because Sudha is new here."
"But my mum doesn't sit with me......"
"Sudha is special."
"It is a sad story............but when Sudha was a baby, she fell down and her head was injured."
"Her head broke?" gasped Shanti. A murmur of shock ran through the class.
"No, it didn't break. But in our head is a brain which helps us to think. Her brain got hurt."
"Does it pain her?" I had the courage to ask this question.
"No, it no longer pains her. But there is a scar on her head." Mrs P walked to Sudha who shrank from her, her face full of fright. Mrs P stopped.
"Sudha is new and has no friend here. You can see how frightened she is."
"Is that why she's crying?"
"Tell me children, how many of you still play with dolls?"
We all put up our hands.
"And how many of you have old dolls?"
"Miss," said Dolly, "Mummy says I am now old so no new dolls for me."
"Yes.....same here," said the majority.
"Miss .... " said Rhoda, "my doll is old and broken."
Mrs P shrewdly picked up the link. "Why do you keep such a doll? You should throw it away!"
"Noooooo ...... '" said Rhoda quited shocked. "I love her."
"That's right............you love her even if she's broken, don't you?"
"Sudha is also a broken doll ........ and we must all love her and keep her safe. She is a special doll."
There was silence in the class and thirty pairs of eyes were studying Sudha.
After a while, Mrs P asked, "Will all of you do that? You have to take care of her and love her."
Thirty pairs of eyes shifted to Mrs P.
"I am going to take care of her and when I am out of class, will all of you take over?"
A few nodded here and there.
"I can't hear you...." said Mrs P
"Yes," was the chorus.
According to our roll numbers, we were allotted our day to take care of Sudha.
It was so simply and beautifully told to us that Sudha was special. Although comparing her to a broken doll may sound harsh today, but I guess that was the easiest way my teacher could explain to her class of 6-7 year olds.
Every teacher when she studies to be one has to also study the needs of the special child. Mostly it is the teacher of the "normal" school who detects the malady and reports it to the parent and Princi. The child is then reverted to a "special" school. The special school prepares the child to eventually integrate into a regular school (if its possible).