Created by the same god

Right in the Middle

The creator is a patron of diversity. No phenomenon in nature is a carbon copy of another. Rain differs from sleet though its genesis is from the same hydrological cycle. Twin-creatures similar in physical form arising from the same fertilised egg split into two, show differences in personality traits. Even fingers of the same palm are not of the same size.

People who are differently abled were created by the same god. Men and women with different features, interests, unique patterns of thinking, quaint individual personalities… Living, pulsating humans with rich life blood coursing their veins, creating different dreams, drives and ambitions. Yet thrown into the same stereotypical category, referred to by the same cruel, grating word ‘handicapped’.

Not man, woman, girl, boy, child, merely ‘handicapped’.

Affected with a condition which left my lower limbs weak, I have had to wear calipers ever since my infant feet took their first steps. When I grew up enough to comprehend language, my eyes used to burn with tears every time I heard myself being referred to by blunt vernacular versions of the aforementioned H-word used by a child or an insensitive adult.

Life soon taught in its harsh signature style that this was just a tip of the problem — concealed beneath was a whole iceberg of prejudice and discrimination. Childhood saw me ostracised, isolated by peers and irreversibly scarred by the unfair treatment meted out by my so-called teachers in the small town school I attended.

Things improved after we shifted to Bangalore. Good grades in school and college, some worthy teachers and gem-like pals were soothing balm on scars. But sometimes there is still a dearth of peace. Direct it may not be, but discrimination still exists between the lines — in the form of cliched myths that the mainstream entertains about the differently-abled.

Cliche 1: A person with disability has to have superhuman willpower, however trying the circumstances might be. Breaking down once in a while like other humans do is never ever allowed.

Cliche 2: A physically challenged person has to be a paragon of virtues and a model of good, docile behaviour.

Cliche 3: A person with disability has to channelise all energies towards work and career only. And what about the sexual dimension of one’s personality? Oh, that shouldn’t exist for any intent or purpose however attractive one may be.

On behalf of all the people who are differently abled, I voice my opinion: we require no praise, no censure. Placing us on the pedestal would be unnecessary. Accept us for what we are — normal human beings capable of love, fun, laughter, achievement and yes, even mistakes. After all, aren’t we all equal contenders in the race of life?

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