evokes an imagery of prosperity: tall and robust UNJAB USUALLY farmers tilling vast green fields on tractors,women milking cows and buffaloes, children enjoying glasses of lassi, rich cuisines prepared with huge dollops of pure ghee and butter, ancestral homes surrounded by yellow mustard fields and courtyards… A rosy picture, isn’t it? But you may need a lens to find out the stark contrast.WalkingthroughthelanesinruralPunjab,onewitnessesdiseasesand disappointment,instead of prosperity and affluence.
Teja Ruhela in Fazilka district looks like any other village. Comprising about 200 households, the village mostly has kuchcha houses. Some of them hardly have any ventilation.But people do not care.At least one-tenth of the households in Teja Ruhela have a mentally challenged kid, according to Baba Farid Centre for Special Children (bfcsc),a non-profit working in the area.“Cerebral palsy has been afflicting children in the village for almost two decades now,”says Krishn Singh,a local doctor. The truth in his words is reflected in the wide age group of cerebral palsy patients. The village residents have accepted their dilapidated existence,just like they have accepted the prevalence of cerebral palsy among their children.
Four-year-old Dilkhurshaid Varval,or Dilkhush as he is fondly called,suffers from cerebral palsy. He lies cross-legged and motionless on a cot in the courtyard. He has never walked,eaten or bathed on his own.He occasionally rolls his eyes,for that is all he can do. His father, Swarn Singh, is unmoved as he speaks about his son. He says