Dear Parents:

I understand what you went through. And remember, it isn’t your fault. And God didn’t mess up with Creation when He sent you a special child. All children are special to their parents. Yours is also a very special child.

Let me tell you about myself. I am the son of two very special parents who had a dream that their child would be able to talk and play like any other child despite having a hearing problem. Of course, when they first came to know the implications of my disability, they were numb with shock – which is very natural. Because, I’ll tell you, in those days, it was known that the deaf could never learn to speak and would be resigned to communicating in sign language.

Those days of uncertainty were definitely not easy. Everywhere my parents went in India, they asked only one question: “Will my child talk?” And everywhere they were met with a response in the negative. People even had the audacity to suggest my mother to go for a second child to fulfill parental ambitions.

A nasty encounter with a top audiologist at AIIMS Delhi was the last straw for my parents. The so-called professionals in India did not shed any light on the darkness that was slowly enveloping us. A Calcutta-based audiologist saw the desperation in my parents. He called my mother aside, and whispered to her: “You seem so determined to make your child talk. I have never seen such a determination bordering on the fanatical. Here’s something that may help you.” He scribbled an address on a scrap of paper, and handed it over to my father. That address was to change our lives.

The address was that of John Tracy Clinic, located somewhere on the west coast of the United States of America. To be more specific, Los Angeles. Better known as Hollywood. When we went there, we literally saw the stars. They told my mother: “Nothing can be done medically to cure your son’s deafness. But you know what you can do about it. Your son can learn to talk, he can go through university, he can do almost everything that a hearing person can do, but you have a job!”

Three decades have gone by since then. I have had a very fulfilling childhood, and I have always thought my deafness to be a great blessing instead of a curse. Truly, it is the journey that makes life worth it. No worries if your child does not come first, second or third. No big shakes if your child does come first, second, third or even last. Life is not a race.

My parents did exactly that. They did not have any plan for me to come first in life. They just took things as they came, reveling in the beautiful journey of teaching their child to talk and talk more. They did not compete with anyone. When I uttered my first word, it was joy unbounded for them. I was never a good student in school. So when I passed my boards, they were elated. I got into college, then university. I graduated from one of the best institutes in the country. So, though they didn’t plan for me to come first in life, things fell into place and worked out in the end. 

My parents have had a very blessed life in mentoring me and watching me grow. Life has given them unforgettable moments. Certainly a child with a disability is not a blessing one would pray for, but nevertheless ours has been a very interesting life.

Yours can also be an interesting life. You can view the glass as half-full or half-empty. Most people wander through life without finding any purpose. But God has given you a purpose in life. Live up to it!

Many years ago, my favourite teacher from high school gave me, for my birthday, an English translation of a book called “Those Days” by the famous Bengali author Sunil Gangopadhyay. I opened the first page, and saw a quote she penned down from a poem by Robert Frost.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Indeed it has made all the difference for me and my parents. And I am sure it will be a rewarding journey for you as well. Happy Parenting!


Dr Angshu Jajodia