I don’t believe that there exist ‘disabled people’ on earth. My experience and understanding has taught me that there are only ‘differently abled’ people on earth who have their own way of doing things.
A person may not have hands yet, he learns to do everything by himself. Someone may have an amputee leg but he either finds a vulcanized leg to pair up or learns things the hard way. There is one common thing about this broad genre of people. They all seem to have an understanding which we may never even get close to. They understand the importance of loss and more importantly, they learn how to make this loss their biggest strength.
Taking a very recent example of Arunima Sinha; she was thrown out of a moving train and lost her legs. People thought that she was crippled for life but today, we see her scaling the 6 highest peaks of the world. She is not aiming for the highest peak in Antarctica. She has set bar higher that most of the ‘normal’ people would imagine. The loss and pain she suffered has made her the toughest mountain climber there ever was.
The other very interesting aspect of the differently abled is that they achieve a heightened sense of their working senses or body parts. Some call it the sixth sense. Some try and explore the scientific explanations behind these changes. But the way I understand this is that they do not think about the negative aspects of life. Instead, they focus their energies on how they can make everything else work. Blind women are some of the best listeners. They trust themselves more than an average person can even dream of. Deaf and mute are the most caring and expressive. A man with paralysed lower body develops immense upper body strength capable of carrying multiple people. Being a dancer myself, I can assure you that differently abled people understand music and dance better than everyone else.
Be it some restaurants hiring only the differently abled, “Planet Abled” starting travel services or our Prime Minister calling them “Divyang” instead of “Viklang”, today people are making efforts to understand that differently abled are just unique members of our society. In our monotonous lives, we are stuck in the cobwebs of jobs, our needs and responsibilities. We fail to do anything that we were once passionate about. But our differently abled friends decide on something and then pursue it with full dedication and passion. They make sure to raise the bar and become the strongest version of themselves.
I grew up in a middle class family and learned things the hard way. I took risks, failed, got back up and failed again. I still fail quite a few times. But my daily inspiration and moral boost to never lose hope is my grandmother. I have never seen her grab a glass of water in one go because of extremely poor eyesight. She suffers from an incurable corneal detachment. But this never came in her way of supporting the family in the best possible way. As a child I often tried closing my eyes and walking around the house imitating my grandmother. Thirty seconds of blindness used to send shivers down my spine. Today, I get goose bumps just by the thought of it. On the other hand, there is my grandmother who not only takes care of herself but also everyone else in the family. She is more alert and energetic throughout the day than anyone else in the family. Her sense of hearing is the greatest I have ever come across.
If you try and experience the life of a differently abled without being one, you might end up losing sight of what is real because of the shock and impact. It’s only through loss that one can understand the importance of what he has. Differently abled have such interesting and passionate lives that most of us only dream of living. They are truly special and beyond compare.
“कमज़ोर मत समझ खुद को
उठ एक बार फ़िर
दुनिया कदम चूमती है उन्के
जििके हौसऱों के आगे शिखर भी शसर झुकाते हैं|”
Winning entry for Sightsavers World Disability Day Blog Contest.
Sightsavers India Fellow, 2019-2021 gets candid as he completes his fellowship journey. Here’s a tete-a-tete with the ophthalmologist on eye health in rural India, the pandemic and his overall fellowship journey.
India is home to over 9 million truck drivers. Truck drivers play a significant role in transporting India’s freight; however their unorganised nature of work prohibits them to take their health issues seriously.
India is home to the largest population of blind people in the world. Over 12 million people in India are blind, of which nearly 88% of the blindness was unavoidable.