Saturday, June 8, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 27

When Rayyan Healed Himself

One of my neighbours would complain that I children talk a lot when I am around. As Rayyan would narrate to me what he saw on the way to school, what he did there or what games they played, she would be irritated and ask me, “Why do you listen to all that nonsense? Not only Rayyan, but almost all children narrate inconsequential things to you and whenever I hear the chatter, I get a headache”.  I did not explain anything to her but I know the reason why I listen to children and why it is important to listen to them. I had learned my lesson.
I got to know about Art Therapy, long after I seen the live demo of it. Rayyan would love to draw and paint since he was two or may be a bit younger. I clearly remember him trying to draw a flower on his second birthday after the celebrations were over.

Rayyan was a pampered child until July 1995. Even though we had faced my dad’s and my sister’s cancer during the past two years he got his share of attention which was diverted from him only after we realized that Farheena may have lot of challenges in dealing with her life. My family was heartbroken and were at loss as to how to deal with this situation. All of sudden, we all were trying to find a solution for Farheena, while Rayyan though loved and cared for, got a bit lonely in this chaos. This was the time when Rayyan took refuge in paintings and drawings. He would spend time creating art work all alone, most often with watercolor. He looked so engrossed, that we seldom bothered him.
He continued his hobby during my diagnosis with cancer, my treatment, my sister’s death, Farheena’s continued therapy and so on. At times I would join him and create some paintings as well. Soon Farheena became a part of the group. She would continue scribbling until sleep overtook her.

 At times her art would wander over the floor and the walls as well. Unlike her, Rayyan was very neat and clean. He would always neatly put away the paints, pencils, paper and other stationary in a wooden box his grandma had given him and wash the palette/brushes and dry it as well before putting it away.
After my treatment, I started selling soft toys to retail shops and also to people I knew to meet my financial needs. I also had stalls put up in exhibitions through a women welfare society where our profits were split. Helping Hand was an organization that helped me sell them and gave my confidence a boost, especially Mr. Ali Khwaja.
Once there was a conference of some kind organized by cancer care people and Mrs. Usha Shinde invited me to put up a stall there. Unfortunately I have forgotten who organized the event because what followed became very important and remained etched strongly in my memory. Rayyan had a holiday and he had accompanied me to the event. There was a painting competition organized to showcase cancer awareness. Since Rayyan was always interested in drawing and painting, I encouraged him to participate in the competition. There was a young volunteer who took him to competition and she lovingly explained to him what it was about. She told him to draw something that would show what he felt about cancer. I was smiling within because he was too young to put something like this in art, so I wanted to interrupt and tell her not to ask him to do something so serious. By then a customer came by and I got lost in selling toys.
By the time I was free, the competition was over and Rayyan had handed over his painting to the young volunteer. I could see tears dripping down her cheeks and there were many others who looked very emotional. She gave Rayyan a big hug. Curious I walked up to the group and saw the painting in her hand. The page was divided diagonally into two parts. One part had a woman with tubes running into her body and a child on the floor with colours and paper looking scared. The expression on the child’s face looked heart wrenching though the art itself was simple. On the other half, there was a woman selling toys and child with paint and paper smiling. Not many will understand, neither will I ever be able to express my emotions of that moment in words. The painting moved almost everyone who were present and I could see many going for the tissues. Rayyan won a consolation prize (wall clock) for the art. It was treasured by my mom for years until it got lost in the chaos of her cancer diagnosis and treatment a decade later.
After the event was over, I came back home and wondered what the child must have been through during those days when we fought the roughest phase of our lives. I skimmed through his paintings and realized he had used it as Art Therapy to deal with his emotions. On the day I went for surgery, my chemotherapy or some other challenging event, the paintings would be in circular form and dark in colour. On the days he was happy with some positive happenings, they would be of nature with trees, flowers, butterflies etc.
From that day onwards, I made sure that I talk or most often listen to Rayyan for at least 30 minutes every day. If he wants to talk more, I am there to listen. It could be about anything or anyone, it doesn’t matter to me. These days I often hear about the MCU and their achievements with enough enthusiasm that it looks like their profits will be deposited into our bank accounts. Sometimes it is about the religion and God, his work, travel, friends, ideas, good jokes, movies, Batman etc etc but I owe it to him to listen wholeheartedly. At times Rayyan realizes that the topic he is talking about may not interest me and checks it out by asking, are you actually listening to me and I repeat the sentences in his exact words back to him. That one decision has made a huge difference to both of us in a very positive way.

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