A rainbow in the sky brings hope to the weary hearted.

IT WAS late afternoon when my helper took me out for a stroll in my wheelchair. It had stopped raining. As she wheeled me along the garden pathway, I caught sight of a spectacular rainbow that stretched across the sky. It lifted my heart as the gentle warm rays of the sun caressed my face.

I shall long remember that beautiful afternoon. It was one of those days when I felt burdened. But as I gazed at the rainbow, its fascinating colours captivated me, and the stresses and cares of life seemed to melt away. “Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true…” The all-time favourite, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, as sung by my dad, played in my head. My dad, V. Durairajah, used to sing to me when I was a kid, and how I loved his singing.

As a child, my dad taught me a simple way to remember the colours of the rainbow. An Art and Science teacher by profession, he drew a chart and pointed to each item as he emphasised “red cherry,” “orange orange,” “yellow banana,” “green apple,” “blue berry,” “indigo prune” and “violet/purple plum.” And sure enough, these became my favourite fruits.

Life must have been tough for my parents for I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when I was eight months old. Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease characterised by progressive weakness and degeneration of the muscles that control movement. Despite my disability, my dad and mum, N. Maheswari, tried to provide me with as normal a childhood as possible.

The growing up years were challenging but I learnt to tackle the many challenges that life threw at me, with fortitude. However, I felt as if my world had crumbled when my dad suffered a massive haemorrhagic stroke at the age of 40. The doctor’s diagnosis was bleak. Mum was worried sick. We thought we were going to lose dad that day, and prepared for the worst. Thankfully, he managed to pull through, but the stroke cut short his teaching career. He became a wheelchair user after the stroke. This cruel twist in life must have been difficult for an active man like my dad, but he never once complained. His stoicism in the face of adversity is admirable.

Lately, my dad’s condition deteriorated and he became bedridden. Now he is completely dependent on my mum. She cooks for him, shaves him, bathes him and attends to all his daily needs. My mum is doing an excellent job as caregiver although she is a heart patient.

Dad loves to sing and play the harmonica. So we play some music and get dad to sing along. I guess that’s how we motivate people – by getting them to do the things they like.

My dad has taught me many things. The way he lived his life has taught me how to live mine. As a wheelchair user myself, dad’s tenacity somehow rubbed off on me. Through him I learnt to hum and sing through the storms of life.

As a tireless caregiver to my dad, mum taught me the virtues of devotion and dedication. I thank God daily for the support of a loving family.

Whenever the sun comes out after the rain, I search the sky for a rainbow. The sight of one never fails to cheer me up. I see rainbows as a symbol of hope. By God’s grace, every day is a new beginning. Life is beautiful indeed.