Title : Children Of A Better God
Author : Susmita Bagchi
Publisher : Penguin India
ISBN : 978-0-143-06642-2
Anupraba returns back to India from US with her family leaving behind a fulfilling job as an art teacher and a comfortable life in the much sought after land. She has her own doubts and apprehensions about the big move while she busies herself in making arrangements to settle down in Bangalore. A chance meeting with one of her old college friends brings even bigger change in her daily routine as a homemaker. Through this friend of hers, she gets introduced to Asha Jyoti and the children studying there, children suffering from cerebral palsy. Anupraba is requested by the principal of Asha Jyoti to guide the children of the school as a temporary art teacher for the upcoming exhibition. Initially she had many doubts and apprehensions of teaching such children but eventually she manages to overcome her anxieties and prepares herself for this short term project. While teaching them the techniques of shapes, figures and mixing colors, she was actually getting to learn some life lessons from these children. She witnessed love amidst hatred, laughter amidst deep sorrow, perseverance amidst disability and above all hope amidst hopelessness.
Despite their peculiar (dis)abilities, she noticed something special in the children and their drawings - perhaps it was the result of permanent impairment or the frustration of being captive in the uncooperative bodies. She could see their inner lively selves brought out through the medium of paper, pencil and colours. 'When they painted, they used a profusion of colours, they used bright hues, and their flowers cheerfully dominated the entire are of whatever size paper you gave them. Their characters were always smiling and doing happy things. They were at play, they were cycling, they were dancing and in most paintings they were about the stuff normal children did everyday, but would require a miracle of God for these children.' While actively guiding the children for the exhibition day, she often wondered what is in store for such children and who will take care of them when they have to fend for themselves, but wanted to believe 'surely the same creator who brought them in this world will look after them. They are children of God, hopefully a better God than the one who looks after us.'
A touching and sensitively written book which brings out the agonies and pains, and threats and challenges of people suffering from cerebral palsy. This is also a tribute to the loving caregivers of such individuals who work behind them and with them so as to enable them to lead respectable independent lives as much as possible. The only thing not coming up to the mark was the narrative, which is a little too simplistic, overlooking a lot of nuances of this subject which demand deeper attention and complete justice.