“Enough!”, she screamed.
But the audience wouldn't hear her. No, that's not correct,  they couldn't hear her. In front of eleven-year-old Priya, her mother, Shobha, and her headteacher were arguing. She might be the reason behind the squabble too, though not entirely, she thought.

Mosha world, Caught In The Act

Earlier that day, Priya returned to her classroom after the PET period, hot and thirsty. She noticed that her water bottle was lying outside her bag, empty, while she remembered taking just two sips from it since that morning. She starting signing to her friends asking who had done it…

Two months ago, Shobha had still been fighting her fears of how Priya would cope in the outside world if she got accustomed to being with people with conditions similar to her own. But Priya dreamed of feeling more comfortable among people like herself, people who wouldn't give her the “special treatment”. She imagined the normal life of a middle school girl as she was joining the school for the deaf and dumb. In spite of Shobha's worst nightmares, Priya slowly started to notice a difference in her and in the way people saw her. Here, she was among those who would understand her and who could think and respond like she did. Priya wasn't special or different anymore.

So, that day, when she found her empty water bottle, she did not think of letting go. She would have done so in her old school. But,  of course, nobody would have “troubled” her there. Never. For the first time in her life, Priya could stand up for herself. Even as these thoughts were swirling around in her brain, a hand tapped on her shoulder. It was the tallest girl in the class, Raji. She gestured to say that she had finished the water and nobody dares to question her about it. Priya should learn the ways of the place, Raji seemed to advise.

Priya had never met someone who threw their weight around. Everybody she had known until then had been polite and kind to her. She found these new circumstances rather exciting. She argued, saying she was no less, and that she would claim her right. She continued to convey all those things she thought someone who would “voice” their rights say. Tension grew between the girls. When the teacher entered the class, she saw that the two of them had emptied each other's bags and were just short of pulling each other's hair out. Instantly, their headteacher asked them to leave the classroom and kneel down outside and remain so for the rest of the day. Priya felt strangely thrilled, for reasons she could not figure.

Raji and Priya could not stand their grounds for long, as they were subjected to the same plight. For the first thirty minutes of their “punishment”, they tried to stare each other off. But then, as one of them broke into a silent laugh (does it matter who?), their apparent enmity melted away. They were sharing jokes by the end of the day.

Priya came home with a newfound lightheartedness, albeit accompanied by two sore knees.
She took her time gesturing it all to her mother as if it was an adventure. She didn't realize what would follow.

Shobha could not understand how Priya was able to smile. Someone had hurt her child. Priya related her “ordeal” while trying to hide her true feelings, Shobha guessed. Since Priya's birth, and later, during the diagnosis of her developmental difficulty, Shobha had been overwhelmed with protectiveness. As all those emotions surfaced, she rose with the determination to give the headteacher an earful. In less than ten minutes, Shobha and Priya were storming back into the school. Shobha was heedless of her daughter's numerous remonstrances.

And now, Priya was looking from one face to the other in the office of the headteacher, trying to read their lips. They were talking so fast, neither of them stopping to ask what Priya thought, what her share of the argument was. “Why do these adults always think they know what is best for the children under their care?”, she wondered, not without mild annoyance. She flailed her arms one last time, trying to gather their attentions. It was in vain. The teacher argued that she treated all her children equally and she wouldn't turn a blind eye when one of them overstepped their limits. And Shobha wouldn't back down because she couldn't let her child be hurt. She felt that if Priya was dealt with in such a manner she would further recede from the world at large.

Neither of them noticed when Priya walked out of the room. She prayed that her mother would soon see that she wasn't protecting her little girl but confining her. The thrill she felt in the afternoon came back to her. As if it was a secret pleasure kept away from her. She was already looking forward to more mischiefs. And, maybe, she hoped, Shobha too will learn, with a few more such incidents, that Priya just wants to be able to express herself.

Being the eleven-year-old that she was, she looked forward to a life full of adventures, just like any other pre-teen would.

Mosha world,deaf and dumb story

You can also read another deaf-mute story: The Silent Euler!

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