Suffering from Down Syndrome,Prathmesh Date was destined to lag behind in the race of life until his parents took the challenge of making him independent
Logging on to yahoo.com to send e-mails to the members of the library is something this assistant librarian enjoys doing the most. And as he effortlessly navigates through the different pages of the site he does not forget to make a check at people thronging his desk to issue books. Politely excusing himself from the people queuing up at his desk this assistant librarian takes a second or two to minimise the window to get back to the queue.
But many,who do not know 21-year-old Prathmesh Date reluctantly hand him the books where others raise their eyebrows. His physical appearance does raise doubts about his potential to handle such a tedious task. But looks surely deceive in Prathmesh’s case.
When 21 years back Prathmesh was born,doctors immediately declared the news to Prakash and Sharda Date that Prathmesh is suffering from Down syndrome. ” It is a disorder that includes a combination of birth defects,including some degree of mental retardation and characteristic facial features. We were definitely shattered when we heard the news but our heart went out for the kid and we decided we will train him to be a normal member of the society,” says Prakash Date,Prathmesh’s father.
Training did not come easy for Prathmesh. Coming from a small place like Ichalkaranji training a kid,who was retarded on both physical and mental fronts,was a tough ride for Prakash and Sharda.
Their quest started with strengthening of the muscles of the legs. Prathemesh who,apart from the physical handicap also had a weak body,had to go through immense pain while his thearapy. Sharda and Prakash underwent the same trauma as Prathemesh. Torn between love and the desire to make him independent the two had a hard time tying him to pillars and making him walk with wooden legs. “Prathamesh was put on various therapies under the guidance of doctors. Amongst the therapies the occupational one was toughest,” says Sharda.
Prakash,who realised the importance of computers some four years back decided to train Prathmesh in some of the softwares. “These kid’s have a tendency to do perfect jobs. They are very punctual and are extremely particular about things. That is why I decided to train Prathmesh in DTP software. Fortunately he responded very well to this project and learnt the required skills to manage the system,” says Prakash
On a look out for user friendly softwares for Prathmesh,Prakash came across a computer software developed by Dr Madhusudhan Gaikaiwari of IUCA-Pune . The software was like DTP,to be used in library.but the speciality was that the handling of the software needed little training, says Prakash
The strict guidance and discipline today has made Prathmesh an independent and responsible citizen of the country. Earning his living as an assistant librarian his efficiency is a ‘talked about thing’ in the libraries he has worked for. “Once the head of the library came to take a book from the library. He did not go through the proper process of issuing a book so I stopped him and made him go through the whole process. He was very impressed by this action of mine,” says Prathmesh.
Today,Prathmesh finds his moments of pride in succesfully sending mails,and diligently keeping a track of books being issued and returned to the library.Though small these activities make him feel important.