Usually Dipen stands alone somewhere. He hardly speaks, he almost seems autistic, living in his own little world and looking once in a while to the outside. To me, when I look at his face, I feel that I see so many questions which do not come out. He started to come to the skatepark after the monsoons last year. Silently he was finding his way around and he certainly developed his very one style. What was in the beginning a staccato kind of movement quickly turned into a smooth ride. It looked like he had fun – once in a while I even discovered a smile. He started to give me high-five when I arrived at the skatepark and whenever he couldn’t get a skateboard he would come and ask me for a board. “Ulrika, board!”
Dipen loves skateboarding so much that he even started to go to school more regularly. He became just another “victim” of our simple “No school, no skateboarding!” rule.
Our first skateboarding challenge in November last year brought forth a new Dipen – the youngest experienced skateboarder (7 years old) at the event. He was literally riding on a huge wave of enthusiasm and he was deeply enjoying it. One could see it in his entire expressions and in the way he was moving around. At the skatepark, especially during the finals in grinding, the 300 people cheered him on like no one else. When he succeeded with a perfect grind the spectators would jump off their chairs and a huge round of applause and endless encouraging “Yeah! Wow! Boah!” shouts were all reserved for him. He didn’t know what was happening – he only enjoyed.
During the event I was sitting with the Member of Parliament (MP) of our constituency at the rear side of our Bamboo House when suddenly Dipen showed up, trying to climb up the terrace surrounding the house. He was so full of energy and it felt that he has come up for a very specific purpose. I stood up, he gave me his skateboard and I reached out with my hand and pulled him up. Dipen smiled, gave me a high-five, offered a high-five to our MP who was at first hesitant, slightly surprised and then joined in with a smile. Dipen said some words in Bundeli, his local language, to him and off he went. Unfortunately the MP hasn’t understood what he was saying. For me this was the first time ever I’ve seen Dipen approaching someone on his own and talking to him. And he did it with joy. And he was so confident and proud. Happy.
When he was gone the MP looked at me, I looked at the MP and somehow – without saying anything – we felt this was something big for little Dipen.
Photo credits: Vicky Roy
Written by: Ulrike Reinhard from Janwaar Castle. Little Humans of Janwaar Castle are photo stories in Collaboration with Leher, a child rights organization working to make child protection a shared responsibility.