Stories based on real life events are more fascinating and touching than fictional ones. One such real life story that touches you with its powerful portrayal of the indomitable human spirit and positive effects of a nurturing environment is Rowing Against the Tide by Roohi Haq.
A short reading Level 4 book, for children aged 10 to 11 years, it is an intensely personal tale for the author as it is about her son who was hearing impaired from a young age. Narrated in the first person, the writer brilliantly uses Noman, the hero, to tell his own story of exploration and struggles in a world where he can’t participate fully because he can’t hear most of what goes on around him.
This way we see things from the prospective of a person with a disability and not from the point of view of a regular person observing another person with a special need, as is often done in many writings on people with disabilities.
Noman doesn’t realise that he is different from others initially and tells us of the struggle both he and his family faced, but with amazing spirits. His parents explored and resorted to all ways and means to make him have the same opportunities that any other child would have — from sending him to a kindergarten with regular kids to a special school in the US for hearing impaired children, from speech therapy sessions to the best doctors available.
We also realise the struggle Noman faced in the normal world, where much of the communication is depended upon sound and speech, when he tells us about the various hearing aids he had to wear and the sports and leisure activities he had to miss. And he also missed his family while he completed his education in the US, under the supervision of his uncle and aunt, but it all became worthwhile when he fulfilled his dream and became what he wanted.
Rowing Against the Tide, is a short story that children should read as it will make them have a better understanding of the feelings and struggles of people who have a disability of some kind, and the fact that such people don’t want pity or overt sympathy, but, like Noman says, “I just want people to understand my disability.”
Thank you Roohi for sharing such a personal journey with the world, and hopefully this will make the world understand people who are hearing-impaired and make it a better place for them.
Available at Paramount Books Pvt. Limited
Published in Dawn, Young World March 18th, 2017