Saturday, December 3, 2011

Arun Shourie`s Tryst with J. Krishnamurti - Dealing with Autism

Arun Shourie, with his wife Anita and his Autistic Son, Adit.
A Mother’s Heart

Years passed. J.Krishnamurti, the great philosopher and teacher, was visiting Delhi. As usual, Ram Nathji had met him in the past, and had a way to get to him now. Krishnaji was staying at the house of Mrs. Pupul Jayakar- a lady who had done great service to Indian handicrafts, a close friend of Mrs. Indira Gandhi and one of Krishnaji’s closet disciples.

Ram Nathji sent me to interview Krishnaji. We talked of the state of affairs, and the rest. Krishnaji’s point was responsibility. Unless each of us owned responsibility for what he as an individual was doing, the state of affairs would just go one hurtling the way it was doing. Krishnaji asked me about Anita. The conversation turn to Adit.

Bring the young man around, Krishnaji said as I got up to take leave of him. His mother is as welcome, but she will not come.

I was to go back two days later. I asked Anita to come along also. She refused-nothing happens, she had concluded, our hopes are raised again and again, and again and again they are shattered.

I went with Adit. Krishnaji talked. Adit was in my lap. From time to time, Krishnaji would fondle his hair and smile at him. A noble child, he said.

‘Your wife did not come?’

‘No, sir. She ahd work at school.’

Krishnaji just looked at me.

‘Come again. Bring the child. Ask your wife to come too.’ This sequence was repeated twice. Krishnaji was most kind to Adit. Sometime during the conversation, he would remark, ‘So, your wife didn’t come?’ I would repeat some transparently cooked-up excuse.

‘Well, I am going to Benares day after. As you know, I have spent my life debunking godmen. I do not believe in miracles. But some people say they have been healed by these hands’ – he looked at his elegant hands and turned them out. ‘ Come to Benares. We have a good place there-completely peaceful. Stay with us. Bring the child along. Your wife too is welcome, if she will come. If I can do anything at all for this child, I would love to. In any case, come again before I go.’

I was truly touched. Such a great man. One of the greatest teachers our times. Prepared to go so far out of his way for our little Adit.

As I used to do after every visit, I told Anita what had transpired. I implored her, ‘Please come along. Every time he asks about you. He is such a kind and such an elegant man… Come, for my sake.’

The three of us went to meet Krishnaji.

This time Krishnaji made me sit on a chair opposite him-holding Adit in my lap. He made Anits sit on the sofa with him. He took her hand in his, and kept it in his hand.

The conversation proceeded. Suddenly, one moment, Krishnaji turned fully to Anita and asked, ‘How do you feel about your son?’

‘He is a happy child,’ Anita replied.

‘I didn’t ask what kind of a child he is. I asked “How do you feel about your child?”’ Krishnaji said with some emphasis.

‘He is our life.’

‘I didn’t ask what he is to you,’ Krishnaji said in a raised voice, almost scolding Anita, ‘I ASKED YOU WHAT DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHILD,’ his voice even higher, the pauses between each word, minority, stern, unyielding.

Anita, who had not cried even once in the years since Adit’s birth, burst into tears. It was as if a missile had pierced a dam. She wept uncontrollably. Krishnaji kept her hand in his, and let her continue crying.

See?’ Krishnaji turned to me, still holding her hand, ‘I told you, you don’t know a mother’s heart.’ And there I was-thinking that I had my mother’s caring heart.A life-lesson, a live-lesson that I have never forgotten.

Excerpts from Does He Know a Mother`s heart (Arun Shourie)

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