Our Stories: Manish & Diwali

Manish’s Story

“It’s the smiles that light up life after all- what ever predicament we find ourselves in. ”

This weekend it’s Diwali – the Hindu festival of light. Usually it’s a time for fireworks, congregating at the temple and seeing friends and family who you only see once a year and of course, stuffing your face .

Diwali 2020 I’m determined is going to a bright spot in what has been a miserable year – let’s face it for all of us -but some have many more challenges to deal with.

I’m a carer for my 39 year old brother Manish. He has autism, no speech and communicates with limited sign language. Since March he has spent almost all of his time at home- unable to go to his day centres because many couldn’t open in a covid secure way because of the extra support people like my brother need.

The last 8 months have been a challenge for him and us at home every day. I’ve been lucky to retain some normality -escaping the home daily to present the news at ITV News Meridian (after getting Manish as settled as he can be.)

As a creature of habit – routine is everything for Manish and trying to explain why normal life has been disrupted makes no sense . My parents and I spend our time emphasising the word ‘lockdown’ and ‘pandemic’ to him . Manish knows these words now and they’re always greeted with a wide eyed look and some times they genuinely upset him – leaving him tearful and sad.

As a family it’s an awful thing to deal with because although we try our best – it’s tiring getting through each day knowing the same awaits tomorrow.

Apart from the odd ‘welfare call’ and the kindness of one of a small local charity- Stepping Stones- outside support has been non existent. Coronavirus making challenged lives even more challenging.

What impresses us though is how Manish is dutiful in wearing his mask. He seems to realise it’s his passport to get into shops and the opening of garden centres with their festive displays has been a boon.

Manish absolutely adores Christmas – it’s the twinkly lights and the decorations that he loves and in our house the decs first start going up for Diwali and over the next few weeks we’ll build on them as we approach December.

So for him and us – more than ever we’ll make this one to remember . It’s the smiles that light up life after all- what ever predicament we find ourselves in. Happy Diwali 🪔 🙏🏽And hope for a better 2021