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“My family celebrates my birthday very grandly each year. Recently I went on a school picnic”

“If my son were ‘normal’, people would not have cared. But now they themselves come to him and speak to him.” This is Ashi Wadhwa (52), proud mother of Raghav. Her younger son, now 31, was born with cerebral palsy but Ashi and her husband, Harish, did not realise initially that he was a special needs child though the doctor had informed the couple right after the birth.
“He was a very cute child and at birth he cried like any other normal child,” she says. As he grew up, she believed that he was fine till the Amritsar-based couple realised Raghav was struggling to walk even at the age of three. So they got him braces and a walker. Soon it was evident he was not able to walk. Ashi says she did not have the heart to force him to do so. The couple visited various doctors and tried various therapies, including yoga, but there was no improvement.
Raghav was enrolled in a mainstream school but it was very hard as he could not do anything by himself and needed constant support. So the loving parents arranged for a tutor at home but this also did not last long. Consequently, he has no formal education but Ashi says he is very sharp and able to express himself. She proudly says that he knows his multiplication tables.
Never one to give up, Ashi happened to meet Maninder Jeet of Agosh Helping Hands. This was in 2018. When she visited the vocational and rehabilitation centre, “there were so many children there who were all so cute but probably more distressed than Raghav”. She is grateful to Maninder ma’am for selflessly taking care of these children. She believes her son is a prince because he has so many people taking care of him! “It is God’s grace that he has people around him to take care of his needs.”
Not that she was in any way slack in this department. When Raghav was small, she took care of all his needs: from brushing teeth to giving him a bath, dressing him, feeding him and so on. But now, as an adult, he is heavy and Harish helps with some of his needs. Even his grandmother Raman Wadhwa (78) is around to help out.
Raghav has been going to Agosh regularly now. He wakes up leisurely in the morning and goes to the centre in an auto by noon. He is done by 4 and he reaches home by 4.30. Though the centre opens at 10, Raghav cannot sit for too long in his wheelchair; hence the flexi hours. At the centre, they get the children to exercise, sing, dance, paint and so on. Raghav even participates in the annual day function where he has gone on stage.
At home, he watches TV or browses on his tab. Sometimes mother and son go for a stroll in the park. His birthday, September 17, is celebrated in style when they either go on vacation or dine in a posh hotel.
The centre also takes them on picnics; they went for one on New Year’s Eve last year and they recently celebrated Lohri. “Maninder ma’am says that these children should not be left behind and they should experience what others do,” says Ashi.
Raghav’s likes? Cold coffee and cleanliness. He prefers everything to be in order, says Ashi, adding that her three-year-old grandson Kabir, born to Raghav’s older brother Akshay who lives in Germany, is always concerned about his special uncle.


Vicky Roy