Redefining Boundaries and Extending Horizons
Edited By Shridevi Rao and Maya Kalyanpur
Chapter 10: “Just a Member of the Neighborhood”: Bengali Mothers’ Efforts to Facilitate Inclusion for Their Children with Disabilities within Local Communities
It is late afternoon. The sun is still shining, its fierceness gently muted by the slightly cool breeze. The winding roads in the interior of Behala in Kolkata get increasingly busy. A number of women walk along the sides of a road with their young children, their paper-crisp starched cotton saris rustling as they hurry by. A loud jingle causes the pedestrians to move to the barely visible pavement as a rickshaw man runs past. The narrow road ends at a fork. The left fork leads to a dusty, pebble-strewn street that peters off to a dead end. On either side of this street are several buildings closely clustered. Wedged between two buildings is the only visible open space: the playground. It is a small rectangular patch of land with no swings or slides. The incessant and relentless hum of the mosquitoes does little to quell the enthusiastic chatter of the children assembled here. A tall boy, around the age of 8, holds the hands of a thin 6-year-old girl in the center of the playground as the group plays a team game. The girl wears a pretty red and blue patterned dress. A young woman of medium height, in her late 20s, with dark black hair, stands on the side, occasionally giving instructions. She wears a soft, cream-colored cotton sari with a bottle-green border. This is Mrs. Som, and the girl in the red and blue dress is her daughter Sharmi, who has been diagnosed with microcephaly. During the...
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