Meet Karuna. The first thing you will notice about her is that she will hold your hand, even if its the first time she met you. That’s how I remember meeting her at the Musahar community at Bajraha, Itahari. She came running and held my hand and walked with me. I didn’t find it too abnormal and went on. Then she spoke and I couldn’t understand a word, so I had to ask someone about it.
She is a mentally challenged 12 year old girl. Her mother is mentally challenged as well, and her father is unknown. They live in their aunt’s house. Both mother and daughter wear long torn tshirts and walk bare footed. Karuna speaks, but it is hard to relate her sentences with Nepali or even her native language. Months back she could hardly study but these days she knows ABCD and 1 to 20.
The last I remember her, we were in a classroom. She came at her own will, opened her books, scribbled whatever she wished to, and left when she wanted, without saying a word. Then a moment later she yelled “miss” from outside the class. Someone had blown a condom, filled water in it, making it look like a balloon, and thrown it nearby. She was playing with it like a balloon. The rest of the children in the classroom started laughing, everyone knew what it was, and that the situation was embarrassing. Everyone except her. She didn’t understand everyone was laughing at her, and so she laughed along with them.
That is how I remember her. Smiling and laughing all the time, doing whatever she wished to, holding people’s hands in a way they would not be strangers anymore, asking for a chocolate without being shy, living in her own world. People would call her abnormal, but isn’t that how children are supposed to be? She doesn’t understand and maybe that’s why she is happy all the time.
Most people make serious faces all the time and smile at a camera. But a smiling face all the time and a serious one for the camera? That’s Karuna.
Credit: Today’s Story