Four-year-old Azaan lies in his mother’s arms, but his sleep is far from peaceful. He suffers regular seizures, the fitful shaking of his small body jerking him awake. He hugs her tighter in fear. “I was eight months pregnant when the gas tragedy happened”, Azaan’s grandmother tells us. “Along with my husband I ran to a safer place. My daughter was born with nasal complications – not severe, but she still has mild complications”. Unfortunately, her daughter’s son was not so lucky. Little Azaan has cerebral palsy accompanied by epilepsy, the cause of his frequent fits.
Azaan’s favourite person is his ‘bua’ (aunt) and he looks forward to her coming home every day. Azaan’s grandmother tells us Azaan is like any other child, “he complains about us to his bua” she laughs playfully. His mother cries as she tells us how Azaan’s father Abdul gets sad when he sees other children Azaan’s age starting to walk, talk, and play with other children. To comfort him she tells him “He will be okay. See how he has grown up so much more than before?” However, she admits to us she too has her doubts. “Probably, his condition won’t get any better, but I just want to comfort his father.”
The couple bring Azaan to the Chingari clinic for treatment. He receives regular physio and speech therapy from the doctors, and while progress has been slow there are promising signs. Azaan’s drooling has reduced, he makes better eye contact and his ability to chew and swallow food has improved. The hope is his mother’s worries are unfounded and with continued care Azaan will eventually be able to make up for the milestones he’s already missed: to sit, stand and speak his first words.