They had named her Anuya, born to Anup and Priya. The had prayed for having her for a long time of 14 years. Anup and Priya were elated. All these years, it was the only thing they had wanted so badly, to embrace parenthood. They tried everything – every option that medical science had to offer and every measure that any religious priests asked them to take. Career progression, international vacations, luxury indulgences – they did it all, but they both still realised the void that existed in their lives. Friends and family suggested adoption, but they dismissed the idea. Even when they were told that Priya was past the age of bearing a child now, they had their faith in Him. And He surely did answer their honest prayers. He gave them Anuya, their daughter.
2 years passed by with the blink of an eye. Anuya was otherwise a happy child, but didn’t witness the developmental milestones of her age. Speech delay was a problem, but she was too aggressive. Any small change in her daily routine would immensely upset her. No cajoling would then help for hours. Initially, Priya didn’t take it seriously thinking she is being a difficult child as she was too pampered, but she felt a caution when later Anuya started banging her head against the wall for elongated durations when things happened against her wish. Her paediatrician suggested certain screening tests, “Just as a contingency measure” they were told. And like every parent they too were worried waiting for the test diagnosis results. Their worst nightmares came true, “Anuya has *PDD-NOS. It is an atypical autism. I will not give you any false hopes and since you are educated yourself, you would know that it is to stay as a part of life now. The only thing we all can do is be supportive to Anuya. She needs your unconditional love and support the most”.
Suddenly, their world came down crashing. Second, third, fourth opinions of several other doctors – everyone had the same diagnosis. Anup took it too hard, he reasoned out with every doctor he met. The reason for Anuya’s diagnosis was unknown, a few doctors however blamed it on their late parenthood.
Anup called his mother and broke down over the phone. His mother tried to calm him down, “Ani, all these years Anuya is all you wanted and prayed for. Why should things change suddenly now? Sometimes there is no happy choice, Ani, only one less grievous than the others. Acceptance should be your first step in this journey. Cherish these moments with her, build her world with her, remember she is your treasure trove”
Anup walked into his bedroom where Priya was engaged in speech therapy exercises that doctor had suggested. Anuya’s words were blurred, incoherent. She leaped towards Anup when she saw him, with a smile said, “I luuuuu uuuuuuu”. That was the moment of Anup’s credence, he hugged her back, tighter, saying “I love you too!” Priya happily cried.
*PDD-NOS: Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified – An atypical condition of autism.
The above story is an entry into #TheChoice a Five00 entry.
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Photo by Melissa Askew