If you Googled the word ‘friendship’, you would be inundated with clichéd, almost over-the-top quotes on the topic.
In Lakshmish’s case, they would all be true.
16-year-old Lakshmish Naik was affected by polio a year after his birth. Although he has never been able to walk, he has led a perfectly normal life otherwise. A large part of this is because of his friends at school.
A group of students from East-West Public School in Bengaluru have been carrying Lakshmish around the school for almost a decade. They have done it religiously, every day, for the past decade, helping their classmate attend classes, play with them at recess, attend assemblies and school fairs, ensuring his experience of school to be as normal as possible.
Their teacher, Grace SithaRaman, shared this story with us. Grace speaks of her students with immense joy and pride. She tells me about how she has seen these boys grow up into such fine young men.
She adds, “For six years, I have observed them first-hand, and I am happy that many others will now read their story and be inspired.”
In her view, “Marks can be achieved at any stage in the life of a student but what we provide to them as soul tonic is the foundation on which they will manoeuvre through life with ease and confidence.”
I ask the boys if carrying Lakshmish was difficult, and even before I can complete my question, his friends answer in unison, “Not at all, Ma’am. There are so many of us, and all we have to do is come together to help him out.”
They also help him navigate his wheelchair around the premises.
How does Lakshmish feel? Speaking to The Better India, he says, “I am not sure I would have come this far if not for their support. I have always known that no matter what, my friends will always be there to help me. Whether it has been for a school event or everyday tasks, my friends have been there to take me along.”
With pride, he names all his friends and requests that I mention them all in the article.
Siddharth S, who happens to be one of Lakshmish’s closest friends, says, “I have known him since class 5 and never once have I felt that his inability to walk was a handicap. He has always been a part of everything we do. Whether in school or outside.”
I hope their friendship remains unaffected, given that the class 10 students will complete their final examinations and go their different ways.
Siddharth says, “It will be difficult once we all go our separate ways. I wish to pursue a diploma while Lakhsmish wants to study commerce, so I know there is no way we can be at the same institute after we complete this year.”
Mayur G, another friend, says, “I will miss him terribly as he has become a part of my family. In fact, more than me helping Lakshmish, he has been helping me in my academics. There have been so many instances when he has cleared my doubts and helped me understand concepts.”
These students have left us all with friendship goals for sure.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)