excerpt of story
The most wonderful time of anyone’s life is childhood. It’s a time when you don’t think about problems, when you’re not yet overcome by the vanity of life: endless work, a house, all kinds of new stuff … when you’re not trying to climb the career ladder and money is like the leaves of a tree; when you’re better not because you have a fancier car or an apartment in the center of town, but because you raced fastest to the finish line; when in answer to the question “whom do you love best?” you don’t name a particular person but rather your parents; when your eyes have not been closed by a pile of everyday problems and you can still appreciate how wonderful the world is as you walk down the street. Can any time be more wonderful than our childhood and youth? When do we feel freer than in childhood?
Yet what would it be like to be a child and not see all this? What if you could never experience the simplest of life’s pleasures, like riding a bicycle or running with your friends over a grassy meadow? What would it be like to be born handicapped? Yes, not paralyzed as the result of some terrible accident, which changed your fate one black day, but born that way.
When a person becomes paralyzed as the result of an accident, it is of course painful and awful, but he can remember his life before that horrible day. But what if you are born like that and every day is black and life is reduced to the small space around you. And what about the handicapped person’s family? They are not always prepared; in fact they are never prepared for this. It’s not like a prison sentence that you get for having committed some crime, where you had a choice: commit the crime or not. To bring up a handicapped child is difficult, both from a physical and psychological standpoint, since at some level you can never understand why this fate had to happen to you. Why is it your child who is confined to bed, while other children are running around playgrounds and parks? And you think, why did this happen precisely to our family – it’s like a lottery in which your family got a lousy ticket for some unknown sin. No, illness doesn’t choose anyone. It can enter any house without an invitation, at any time. Illness entered the home of Ildar and Mariam together with the birth of their first son. It wasn’t recognized right away; though the birth was difficult, the doctors didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. But later, when the child got a bit older, they diagnosed him with Cerebral Palsy.
And how well it had all begun! When these two young people had just fallen in love everything seemed wonderful. At that time Ildar was studying to be a mechanic and Mariam was a senior in the department of textiles. They met on the dance floor somewhere in the late 80s or early 90s, when Ildar worked up the courage to ask the girl in the red dress who was standing timidly in the corner if she wanted to dance. Neither of them really knew how to dance, but their mutual clumsiness didn’t bother them. Just at that moment Ildar saw in the girl’s eyes what he had been seeking: kindness and tenderness. Her name was Mariam. Ildar courted her for a long time, waiting patiently for her to return his love. And Mariam did. They were caught up in a whirlwind of emotions and immediately began to think about marriage. Of course, at first their parents were opposed. The children needed to finish their education after all, to get settled, get their lives on track and only then think about a family. And the fact that Mariam was a bit older than Ildar was a problem. But let’s forget about all the problematic scenes of fathers and sons: whole piles of books have been written on that topic. We can just say that after a lot of arguing, the young people managed to get their parents to agree to the marriage.
After the wedding other problems arose. The question of where they would live had to be solved. Ildar did not want to live with his parents. For a while they stayed with friends, but that was not a long-term solution. After a few weeks Ildar found a tiny one-bedroom apartment at the very edge of town. But this didn’t bother the young couple. They were happy to have created their own family nest. And it was in the nick of time, because Mariam was expecting a baby. These were the most wonderful months, while they waited for new changes, hopes and the child. It seemed that nothing presaged problems. But their long-awaited son, their hope, appeared with a terrible disease. The birth of an invalid son changed everything for Ildar and Mariam. Movie theaters and walks in the park were replaced by visits to the hospital, white walls, medicine and sleepless nights praying for the boy’s health. Ildar tried as hard as he could to help his wife. He took a second job, borrowed money from friends, but it wasn’t enough to achieve the most important thing – health for his son.
It was a very difficult time, but a fresh and light breeze, a breeze of change, began to blow away the heavy and depressing atmosphere of their life. It happened when Ildar was working at a car wash. He wasn’t earning that much, of course, but still it was something on top of what he could earn doing construction. Everything would have just kept going the way it had if it had not been for a lucky chance. One day an expensive foreign car pulled into the carwash. A guy in a dark suit got out, told them what he wanted and headed for a nearby café. As the car’s owner walked away a local kid came by, opened up the back door and grabbed a briefcase that was lying on the back seat. He ran off with it and Ildar, who had seen what happened, ran after him. He managed to catch up to the guy and get back what he had stolen, but the thief managed to slip out of his grasp and disappear. Just then the man whose property had been stolen came back. He thanked Ildar and they started to talk. The man’s name was Sabir and he turned out to work for a bank, which just then was looking for a new driver. Ildar told him about his life, about his invalid son on whose treatment he had to spend a lot of money. Sabir listened carefully and at the end of the conversation wrote down Ildar’s number and promised to call. Ildar came home happy, and cheered up his wife with the news. In a couple of days the promised phone call came and soon Ildar became Sabir’s driver.
And so Ildar and Mariam’s life began to come together. How often does it happen that we have lost all hope when suddenly help comes from “on high” and we grab at fate’s proffered hand?
It happens frequently. But my story is dedicated to the boy, who was unable to feel the world the way other people do as a result of his particular fate. This does not mean that the boy was in some way unusual, he was simply ill. My story is about Azat. It is about an ordinary boy with an extraordinary fate.
The boy grew up with great difficulty. He was already two years old and he couldn’t even crawl, much less walk. His parents carried him in their arms. Equally problematic – the boy could not speak. Once Ildar began to earn more money, his parents started to look for better doctors. They prescribed injections, massage and many other types of treatments but these did not seem to have much effect. The boy’s arms got stronger and he could hold his head up better, but he still couldn’t talk and nothing helped.
Ildar and Mariam thought about having another child. At first this seemed impossible. How could they take care of two children, when one of them was so seriously ill? But then Ildar got a promotion and it became possible. When Azat was five, a sister appeared who was named Malika. And Malika was the happiness and laughter of the house. It seemed that Ildar and Mariam had woken from a dream.
Malika seemed to grow every hour. She played with Azat, sitting on the floor. Her brother watched and repeated every gesture that his sister made and thanks to that he learned to hold his head up and even to crawl. The children grew and were very friendly, but when the girl had grown up a bit her parents decided to send her to nursery school. Azat missed his sister all day long, but in the evenings he was happy when she came back home.