The Big Bad World
So, this happened a few months ago.
My husband (Sarat) took my son (Shaurya) to the Apple Service Centre located in a multi-storied commercial complex in Hyderabad. The security guard at the front gate informed them that there was no lift in the building. Sarat decided to carry Shaurya in his arms as Shaurya wanted to see the Apple store. In the parking lot, Sarat noticed a lift and after a short “conversation” with another security guard, they took Shaurya’s wheelchair in the lift and reached the store.
After their work, Sarat complained to the manager of the Apple store about their travails. The manager directed him to the facility-in-charge, an ex-army officer. Sarat’s main grouse was why the security guards were not trained to direct people in need to the lift. The facility-in-charge’s response was they had only one lift to carry heavy stuff, not people. And as you can guess, the argument escalated and the facility-in-charge screamed,” You should not bring such kids outside!!”
And you guessed correctly, my dear husband turned into a bull, with nostrils flaring, baring of teeth, raising his hood. (It doesn’t sound like a bull!!) Cutting the long story short, in the end, the facility-in-charge reluctantly apologized.
Weeks later, a similar story happened in a huge stationary store, Himalaya Book Store. Shaurya wanted to sit in the aisle, as he loves to look at different types of pencils, scented erasers, and interestingly shaped sharpeners. The store personnel was feeling uncomfortable in allowing my son to sit near the aisles as other customers may get “discouraged-scared” by the presence of my wheelchair-bound son. This was my turn to turn into a supernatural animal. Together, we created a huge scene, but the staff didn’t apologize even once.
Am I different?
Days later I started thinking about both incidents. In both cases, the message was clear. Since my son didn’t fit into the mold of a normally healthy kid, so he should not be brought out and if you bring him out, be ready for the consequences. Somehow, I hated the second one more. It was outright mean. In the first case, I was able to understand the facility in charge’s response. He didn’t want to bend the rules of the building. His response was typical of a straight-jacket thinking, “If you can’t follow the rules, don’t play the game.” Most of the time, most of us, think like that only. Isn’t it?
If my son had not been disabled, would I have been “this” sensitive to the cause of disabled? When I wasn’t a mother, had I ever paid attention to the availability of ramps, lifts, or any kind of mobility assistance. Even now, I have no idea how people suffering from non-mobility disabilities manage their day-to-day life. I know only one kind of disability.
It may make sense to you, or maybe it will not but this kind of analysis helps me to process the world around my son. It helps me to look at them as human and controls my urge to bring out my super-natural animal version.
Shaurya, my son
This is a year-old picture of Shaurya, with his cousin. Can you make out which one is Shaurya?
Shaurya is a teenager now. He has started having a crush on a new girl every month. He has faced rejection from his best friends and had fights over cheating in exams. He lies, manipulates, and uses his disability to gain sympathy. He has developed no talent for music, painting or Maths. I had imagined that my disabled son would be a genius in some kind of art or will turn out to be a Maths geek. To my chagrin, he is just another, average teenager.
This is another interesting aspect of being the parent of a disabled kid. You want some extra dose of heroism thrown in lieu of the disability. Shaurya is intelligent but has shown no interest in being a topper or excelling in anything in particular. I want him to behave like a chatty- extroverted, confident teenager, the type I see around me all the time. I want him to fit in the mold of a “normal” teenager or the “guy who became successful despite his disability.”
Shaurya has friends in the school but none in our colony. He is a quiet kid and does feel lonely but he is sort of learning to deal with it. One day I asked him to talk more with people. He asked me why. I said, “If you don’t talk, people assume that you are just a quiet kid sitting in a corner.” He asked what was wrong with being a quiet kid sitting in a corner.
I had no answer. Am I forcing Shaurya to play the game he doesn’t want to be part of? Am I no different?
This post is a part of “International Day of Disabled Persons” blog hop hosted by Sakshi Varma – Tripleamommy in collaboration with Bookosmia. #IDPD2022Bloghop. Access all posts of this blog-hop at https://tripleamommy.com/2022/12/02/idpd2022-lets-make-this-world-a-more-inclusive-space/