Minda Cox was born with the dice stacked against her
Bangalore: The memories come flooding back to Catherine Cox. Nearly 20 years ago, she had come to Ashraya children’s home eager to see Swapna, whom she was to adopt. The bright-eyed seven-month-old had made news as the little girl with no limbs, relinquished by her parents to a hospital in Manipal when she was just a day old.
“I saw her on her cot in a little room here,” says Ms. Cox pointing to the building.
“Somebody had her all dressed up. She smiled at me at first – and then burst into tears when I came near!” Ms. Cox recalls.
“I was just not used to strangers, mom,” the 19-year-old quips in her American twang, before turning back to her laptop where a slideshow of her artwork is running.
Minda (the name given to her by her adoptive mother) now a budding artist, lives in Bolivar, Missouri, with four other children adopted by Ms. Cox, who is a priest.
This is Minda’s first visit to her home State. Crowded around her are visitors to Ashraya – children and their adoptive parents, social workers and friends – gathered here for a reunion on the 25th anniversary of the organisation.
A self-portrait shows a younger Minda dextrously painting, brush held in the crook of her neck.
“Every one of her watercolours and charcoal sketches has been sold,” says Emily Frost, her art teacher.
“She spends eight to 10 hours painting. I have never seen anyone with such determination.”
Art, says Minda, does for her the things that her disability prevents her from doing.
“I cannot leap or run… but my artwork can do all that.” She draws our attention towards an abstract charcoal sketch, called “wheelchair.” The wheel and broken chain, she explains, represent the boundaries and freedom that her wheelchair afford.
Teachers actually discouraged her from painting – they told her: “you cannot make a living with it,” says Ms. Frost.
“That is when I started holding classes for her. And now, two years later, every one of them is sold.”
Emily’s husband Jim Frost, also her teacher at the South West Baptist University, speaks of how she often does not relate to children her age because “she asks herself questions children her age do not ask”.
She has empathy for people that only her disability could have given her, he adds.
Minda has recently been busy on tours around the country, talking to children about disability.
Coming back to India “is like a dream” says Minda. And her yearning to find her biological mother is unconcealed.
“I would like to know what she looks like, who she is. I want her to know I’m doing well. I thank her for giving me a chance to live,” Minda added.