When Moy Moy was small, Shaila Faleiro – the first trained special educator we ever hired – used to come by our house on the odd Saturday morning to ask if she could “borrow Moy.” Borrowing Moy meant a few hours of fun and games for Moy (Shaila was a wellspring of ideas, plus there would always be Maggi Noodles and hot chocolate) and a few hours of peace and quiet for me. Shaila made it seem like she was the winner, though. She came to “Borrow” Moy Moy.
Paula used to do the same thing. She would come by in the afternoon to ask Moy if she had the time to join her for a walk. I would help Moy Moy get into her stroller and the two of them would march off to the Forest Research Institute or the Tea Gardens or just around Vasant Vihar. Paula always made it seem like Moy was doing her the favor.
Lately, however (and you know I hate to complain), Moy doesn’t get many requests for her company.
Maybe people think she’s too busy. (She’s not.)
Maybe people think taking her out is complicated. (It isn’t.)
Maybe people think we’ve got it all under control. (We don’t.)
The fact is: everyone needs a social life. Everyone needs friends who aren’t controlled by their parents. Everyone needs something to look forward to and everyone – EVERYONE! – likes a little fun.
Routine is not fun. Predictable is not fun. The same damn thing, day in, day out, is not fun.
So call Moy Moy up on the phone. Ask her when she’s free. If your house is on the ground floor, I can drop her off and pick her up. If you live on a first floor or above, she’s got an amazing stroller. You can go for a walk together. She’s sitting right here and she is waiting for someone to arrive.
But maybe you don’t live in Dehradun. Don’t worry. There is – I guarantee it – someone else like Moy Moy in your neighbourhood. Maybe right on your street. She may be an elderly woman whose children live too far to visit or a teenager with autism and no friends. He might be an alcoholic who needs company every afternoon to stay sober. Or a young adult with Down Syndrome who just wants to connect with someone his own age.
Look around! Reach out! We are all so shy, so diffident, so worried about protocol and manners. We think we can’t introduce ourselves to strangers; we think we can’t just walk up to a person we don’t know and try to make friends.
But the thing is: we do know these people. We just don’t know that we do. Think it right through. All the way to the end. You know you know somebody with special needs. Remember what they look like. Try and come up with their names. Call. Make a date.
Moy Moy will say yes.
Call. She’s waiting.