With Children of a lesser God

{mosimage}Date 18th july 2009
Venue: St Louis Inst for Deaf and Dumb, Chennai

Michael Vedamuthu , FOM core group leader from Chennai has always taken the concept of community service to a very elevated level. Whether it is presenting his inspirational testimonials at group meetings or giving his all during the All India Meetings no matter where it is held, to his services to his peers in his native city of Chennai, this soft spoken , loving dad and husband is someone who evokes the greatest respect. 

This time in Chennai during the FOM meet , we had a chance to see Celine , his lovely wife at work also and got a glimpse of what this amazing husband – wife team are involved in. Just a few minutes walk from their home is the St Luis Institute of training for the Deaf and Dumb where Celine is the Class Teacher for 12th Grade students. As we found out that Saturday morning when we went to meet her, she is not only their Class Teacher but their Music, Art, Dance Teacher too. There was an inter school dance competition going on in the neighboring St Patrick's High School and Celine was busy with getting her excited team of participants dressed and ready for the big event .

{mosimage}We watched in open mouthed wonder as their costumes came on and the excited, gangly and bright eyed boys transformed into gloriously feathered peacocks and traditionally decorated dancing horses while some of them intriguingly dressed as both male and female folk dancers took our breath away. One tinkling, swishing swirl of the skirt and the shy girl in front of us was transformed into a mustached young graceful boy's visage.

There was so much excitement in the air and much gesticulating and happy exchanges. It did not even matter that these were boys who could not speak to or hear each other. They were communicating with each other effortlessly and in perfect harmony. A thought did briefly cross my mind – how were they going to dance to the tunes and beats they could not hear!!

{mosimage}Well, we got our answer Beena and Ayeshah and myself ; when it was the turn of the St Louis team to take the stage we watched ,rather bemused , Celine take position on the grassy ground ( it was an open air stage) and as soon as the music began to play she was moving in graceful time to the beat of the energetic folk song , enacting each mudra ( dance action) that conveyed the meaning of the song that was being played. Her body swayed to the rhythm, her hands formed beautiful images and her eyes beseechingly led her team by their hearts to perform.

{mosimage}And perform they did!! Their eyes in turn followed unerringly every move and nuance of their beloved teacher and not one beat did they miss, not one mudra went un enacted. We watched in enthralled admiration. And cheered madly after each number they performed. It was totally touching to see them seek out Celine afterwards, crowding around her eagerly wanting to know if they had done well , their tired , excited faces seeking her reassurances .

We could not congratulate and appreciate them enough; smiling our praises and appreciation. They were absolute angels, letting us wholeheartedly into their charmed wordless circle. It was unbelievable how much we spoke to each other in speechless glee !!

We had actually come to drag Celine away to the FOM meet but now it was we who were loath to leave the boys and go anyplace. Finally fond farewells were said, many pictures taken and promises elicited for more visits.

{mosimage}On the way out, we dropped in to the class room to see Celine exhorting the Seniors to pay attention to the curriculum of the day and catch up with the tutorial of the day. She was so concerned for them that she regularly took extra classes on the weekend so the boys would be able to keep up with the syllabus which was the same as the ones followed by other schools in the State. There was no special consideration for these differently abled youngsters and no one in their homes was equipped with the skills needed to teach them. So Celine spent her Saturdays and Sundays in school taking extra classes.

We simply and silently doffed our hats to this wonderful woman. Loving wife to Vedamuthu, caring mother to little Joe (who shares Max's birthday by the way) and teacher , mentor and adoring big sister to the students of the Institute .

And oh the St Louis boys won the second prize in the dance competition – second amongst more than 50 schools and peers differently abled from them!!!!

Report by Viji Venkatesh