Many people know Rekha as Devulapalli Krishna Shastry's granddaughter, Bujjai's (children's writer) daughter and actor Naresh's ex-wife but the parents of 25 special children know her as a super-woman, second mother and a principal who spends her day with their wards in a school for special children.
The school of autistic children is run by Rohini Priya Charitable Trust in Chennai, whose aim is to boost their confidence, security, build their self esteem and closely watch their progress. While they grow under her loving care, Rekha's younger son Teja is studying in National Institute of Open Schooling that coaches people who are economically weak, unable to continue studies and have a learning difficulty. She wasn't devastated when she discovered autism in him - she gathered all her energy, courage and became his support system. Why isn't she a part of her son's school?
She says, “If I concentrated on my son, I wouldn't be helping other children.” There are plenty of special schools everywhere but are they able to make a qualitative difference? Rekha says some children progress by leaps and bounds and some are slow but the changes are visible in all. She started her work five years ago. Teja is now 18 years old, and is a fabulous painter, like his grandfather. “No one taught him to paint, it is as natural as breathing,” remarks the happy and proud mother.
Recently his work was auctioned for Rs. 40,000. He painted for the Royal Bank of Scotland and Ashok Leyland and if there are any events, his work is given as a present; most of his paintings have been converted into pretty greeting cards. Also a citizen journalist, Teja was interviewed by CNN-IBN. Rekha never complained or indulged in self-pity while bringing up her child nor has she has taken credit for what he is today. She is calm and composed and says that both mother and son derive strength from each other.
She says, “Teja has faith that I'm perfect and I will always speak the truth. It becomes doubly difficult for me to even think of lying,” and adds that the first thing that parents need to do is not focus on autism but the child.
In the process of showering affection and time on Teja, did she neglect Naveen, her eldest son? “No,” says Rekha, he was always her priority and being the oldest he would always understand. Naveen who edits films (he worked for Krishna Vamsi and is now assisting Manchu Manoj for his film) is being groomed to be an actor by grandmother Vijayanirmala.
Recently someone asked Rekha how many kids she has, and she replied “25”. “It never occurred to me that Naveen and Teja are my only children,” and signs off by saying that by the end of the day she sleeps a very satisfied person and wakes up next morning with lot of hope and zeal.