A charming leader among specially abled

He is a tall, well built man in forties, who strikes as an anomaly amidst the mentally challenged children who are not even half his age. Sometimes, he beats the perfect tune on the school band to the directions of the band master and sometimes he is busy knitting door mats. Sometimes his busy hands make perfect folds to make paper bags and sometimes he is right there on stage playing a role in schools dramatics.

If all had been fine, then this 40-year old man would have been one of the busy persons checking/cleaning/extracting teeth of his patients addressing him as Dr Manoj (name changed).

Unfortunately, destiny had something drastically depressing in store for him. Victim of Schizophrenia, this dentist has almost forgotten everything about dentistry. With insatiable love for ‘5 star’ chocolate he has confined his life to the vicinity of Saanidhya.

Manoj completed his dental education couple of years ago and completed his internship in a reputed hospital in the city. Seeing his performance he was absorbed by the hospital but soon Manoj started staying aloof and there was drastic behavioural change in him.

Family members on conditions of anonymity say that he had been a little different from rest of his counterparts even as a child but the problem only increased with his growth.

“Even till date we have not known the reason why he ended up being like this,” says a family member close to Manoj.

The family had not left any stone unturned. Finally Saanidhya came as a ray of hope to them. As far Saanidhya Special School is concerned, it had welcomed Manoj as an uncontrollable individual and shaped him in to a well behaved person today. The swollen foot of Manoj is the proof for his suicidal tendencies that he had before he entered the portals of Saanidhya.

As against the blank stares that he used to give to strangers, today he shakes hands and tolerates a conversation.

 “I remember the first day when I met him in his house. I had a 5 star chocolate with me, which helped me make friends with him and that actually worked. We have given him a patient hearing and helping hand whenever he required and today he is not willing to leave Saanidhya because he loves being here,” says Vasanth Shetty from Saanidhya
It is said that Manoj had once confided to his counselor that as a young boy he was interrogated by police when his classmate had committed suicide. “It was a petrifying incident, which I have never been able to overcome,” Manoj had told. Probably that is the reason that even today Khakhi and Lathi still continues to be his greatest fear.

If what Manoj had confided to his counselor once is true then the policy makers certainly do have to take cognisance of the same and spare a minute to look into the need to have effective implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act and also to have special Juvenile Police unit that is being demanded by Child Rights Activists for a long time now.

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