Measure of a Man: The Story of My Pain, Suffering and Torture: All for two more inches of height
Akash and Rahul Shukla
Llumina Press (2009)
Reviewed by Danelle Drake for Reader Views (12/08)
Like most all parents, I want my children to be happy. My husband and I do everything possible to make sure our daughters are well-educated, well-rounded, well-clothed, well-fed, well-loved, and just well. We try to instill in them the fact that as they grow, what is on the inside is oh-so-much more important that what is on the outside. A few phrases that have been heard over and over in the Drake household are, “When you are the parent, then it is your turn to decide what time is bedtime. You don’t always get what you want.” And, my personal favorite, “God put me here to raise you, not be your best friend.” Children do not always need what they want, and it is the parent’s job to be discerning and reasonable.
At the age of sixteen, Akash Shukla had reached his adult height. He was not going to me any taller than 4 feet 11 inches. Akash wanted to be just a few inches taller. His mother, also 4 feet 11 inches, wanted him to be just a few inches taller. His 5 feet 5 inch tall father wanted him to be just a few inches taller. They researched, they studied and they found a way. They wanted to give him what he wanted, feeling it would make his life so much more. More what? Not bordering on arrogance, they were a prosperous family. He was well-educated, well-clothed, well-fed, well-loved, and physically well. He wanted to be taller, and they were prepared to make it happen. I would not willingly subject any of my children to known torture just to get what they wanted but the will and strength of this family should not go unnoted.
Beginning with horrific surgery and ghastly details, “Measure of a Man: The Story of My Pain, Suffering and Torture: All for two more inches of height” will leave you thinking, “What in the hell were they thinking?” I am a very open-minded person and was prepared to change my initial thoughts on this process, but in the end I could do no such thing. In the final pages of the book I kept going over this one comment made by Akash on his first solo outing after the surgery, “She smiled back, a friendly, warm, and inviting smile. As I passed her, I smiled back – a grief, gently, confident smile. Suddenly I felt an unusual serenity inside me. It was just a casual smile from a stranger. But it meant much more to me. Her smile represented an acceptance – a kind of a promise that now I was free to engage the world as myself. I was simply Akash, instead of “short.” Was he not that prior to the surgery? Yes he was, and it is so sad that he didn’t realize it.