Priya clutched her doll, as she went over to the balcony. She looked over the grill that was surrounding her balcony. Priya was a girl who lived in a flat system. As she looked out, she gave a little sigh. The roads that were so full of bustling crowds, were now completely deserted. The air that used to ring with the vehicle horns was now still and silent. Ever since India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modiji had announced the lockdown of the whole country, to battle the deadly coronavirus, there was hardly a soul roaming around.
Priya was lost in thought of the epidemic when suddenly, she saw movement in the front. She looked up to see that on her neighbor’s balcony, there was a girl. She was new to Priya. The neighbor girl came to the plants that were growing in her balcony, a kettle in her hand. Using the kettle, she began to water her plants. Taking this moment to break the ice, Priya smiled and said “Hey, hi! I see you are new here. What is your name?”
But to her surprise and bit of annoyance, the girl pretended that she could not hear Priya. After watering the plants, she went inside her home. “Why didn’t she respond to me? Maybe I was not loud enough” thought Priya, as she went back into her home. Her mother, who was watching all this, asked Priya “Hey, do you know who is that girl you just waved to?” Priya nodded a no. “That girl is our new neighbor. Her name is Nitya. Her father works in the coal production field. The girl is deaf, so she could not hear you.” said her mother. The last sentence came as a shock for Priya but she quickly recovered. “That is why she could not hear me. But that does not stop me from communicating with her! I want to be her friend.” Thought Priya. Priya began to muse on the problem.
The next day, Priya waited for Nitya. Nitya came soon, with a kettle in her hand. She looked at her plants and smiled because the plant had just bloomed a flower. Priya waved. That caught the girl’s attention and she returned the wave back. Then Priya made a gesture that the flower was beautiful. This caused the girl’s face to literally glow. She nodded and then smiled at Priya. Then she went inside again. Priya smiled. “She is not challenged. She is someone who knows a different language, a foreign language. And she has problems because we here do not know these languages.” mused Priya. Then suddenly a thought struck her. “A different language? A different language! The sign language” realization broke through Priya’s mind. She just needed to understand Nitya’s language, the sign language!
Priya literally bounded up to her mom and asked her permission to use the computer. Then, she switched on the computer and began to search for the sign language. Soon she learned a simple sentence in sign language. ‘How are you’. All day long, Priya practiced the small little sentence. She also saw what all the possible answers would be so that she could recognize it. She practiced the sentence. When she was confident that she got it right, she went to her balcony. After some time, Nitya showed up. Priya waved to Nitya, getting her attention. Nitya waved back and looked quizzically at Priya. Priya quickly signed the sentence ‘How are you?’ At first, Nitya did not realize. But then her eyes widened. Then the joy showed on her face. No words would be there to describe the precious expression that Priya saw. Nitya’s mouth fell open as her eyes brimmed with tears. She took a deep breath and then positively beamed at Priya. Nitya suddenly signed something in the sign language and Priya recognized it as ‘Fine, Thank You’. Then suddenly she made another sign. She clasped her two hands together and shook it a bit. Priya recognized it as ‘Friends?’. Priya nodded and showed the same sign. And a bond between them was formed. A bond of friendship.
As the lockdown proceeded, Priya learned more and more sign language. The language was a bit hard, but Priya was a fast and determined learner. Soon she was able to sign words fast. Priya’s family was happy with this new approach. Priya herself was happy too. While everything was locked down, Priya learned a new language and made a new friend into whom she could confide in. In the sea of despair in which she was sailing, Priya shined a beacon of hope and happiness not only in her life but in Nitya’s life too.
We are sailing in a sea of negativity. We have an option to sit and let this negativity eat us away, or an option to light the lamp of positivity in every moment possible. The choice is ours.