Last week Radha returned to pwhy after two months spent at the village. We had missed her and were thrilled to have her back. We soon realised that her holiday had not been that wonderful as most of it had been spent in cast from neck to toe! For those of you who do not know Radha, she is a little girl who has OI (Osteogenis Imperfecta) better knows as brittle bone or glass bone disease. This means that even a small tap can break the little girl’s bones. In all her nine years Radha has been in a cast more than 50 times! Her situation is difficult to handle under the best of circumstances so you can imagine what is its like in a tiny hovel or in a a village where no one knows about such ailments or really cares.

And yet Radha is full of spunk and her smile is enough to melt the hardest soul. But sadly since her return the smile is missing and even if does make a fleeting appearance at times, it is tinged with sadness. We were soon to discover why. It seems her mom has been talking about her plight to all and sundry within the little girl’s earshot: she does not have long to live, what is the point of investing anything in her! The brave little girl hears it all and her smile wanes slowly till it vanishes to reappear only for brief spells.

We had visitors two days ago and Radha agreed to dance and like always she danced with her heart and like always we were transported to another world where the sun never stops shining and only all that is good prevails. The magic was short lived and the dance was ephemeral. The smile that had accompanied the dance disappeared and Radha went back to her place, her face drawn. The moment was heart wrenching.

The next morning Radha did not come to pwhy. She had had fallen in the night and broken a bone. Not only that, the Xray attendant at the hospital had not handled herwith care, and while placing her on the Xray table had broken a second bone! We were livid but helpless in a land where suing for malpractice does not exist. Prabin the special class went see her and came back aghast. Little Radha was in terrible pain and of course the mother had not bothered to purchase the prescribed painkiller. The little girl sat on her mom’s food cart, covered with flies and in agony. We had to do something and we did. We brought Radha ‘home’, or rather back to the centre where she would stay with Manu and his friends, at least till the time her cast was off.

She is now at our foster care and will stay there as long as needed and of course she will be handled with utmost care and love. When I look at Radha and at most of her classmates, the need for Planet Why becomes more than a necessity. For many parents these children are a burden they often do not quite know how to handle. They lack sensitivity and understanding and are unable to offer the enabling and loving surrounding such children need and as they grow into teenagers and then adults they become more and more alienated and suffer in silence. Planet Why would be the haven they silently and intuitively pray for and I for one will leave no stone unturned to ensure that their prayers are answered.

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