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2017-09-27 16:58
By Nam Sang-so



Seven percent of the children in the world are born with various impaired in a various way of disadvantages.  In-sook, the daughter of one of my hometown friends, became pregnant for the first time at 40, and she and her husband were overjoyed. Like any other baby, their little boy, Man-su, was lovely and had clear eyes, and everyone chuckled he made his first yawn.

After three months, the mother noticed that the boy couldn’t make clear response to her love call, and his eyes seemed dull and out of focus. 

After various examinations at the hospital, she was told that her baby had Down Syndrome. The doctor explained it meant that Man-su would have mental retardation. She and her husband felt the sky was falling.

Would Man-su learn to walk and talk? Would he ever be able to care of himself independently? Would they be responsible for him the rest of their lives? Every day, the dark clouds of fear rose one after another. 

The family could not imagine life without the baby, who was affectionate and was always with a ready smile. Still, In-sook often felt exhausted by the level of care that Man-su needed. He was nearly five before he became toilet trained.

As In-sook and her husband grow older, they worry about what would become of Man-su when they are gone. Children would bully him. It further scared the mother to realize that mental retardation is a lifelong disability.  

She had heard more than once about the concept of double suicide a mother first killing her disabled child before ending her life. As her husband was getting drunk more often, she thought that it might be the best way to relieve the unbearable burdens on him and her. On many days, when the sun set, she was tempted to take the easy way out. 

The hard spring had passed, and so had the difficult summer and autumn. Man-su has grown tall, handsome and pleasant. He liked to gaze at flowers, the white clouds floating in the sky during the day and the moon and stars decorating the sky at night. He liked to walk his dog, Happy, who jumped to and sat on the boy’s lap.  From his deep brown eyes, the mother noticed a love for nature growing.

One day, In-sook read one of Roald Dahl’s stories to Man-su: “… that weasel is a marvelous little creature. It is the bravest of all the animals. The mother will fight to death to defend her own children. She will never run away, not even from a fox. She will stay beside her nest and fight the fox until she is killed.” Then, she told herself, “I’ll live as long as Man-su is alive and after he’s gone to another world. Then, I’ll be ready to follow him.”

The writer was motivated to write this article by a Korea Times article, “Parents, residents spar over school for disabled” published on Sept. 11; “I’m a sinner for having a child with a disability,” said a mother, who was keeling and begging in front of residents who are opposing the construction of a school for children with disabilities children, as the residents believe the school may decrease the property prices in their community.

 

The writer is a grandfather who lives in Seoul. His email address is sangsonam@gmail.com.

 

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