One Another’s Support: Countering environmental barriers and mis-perceptions of society

Posted by Mahesh Tongaria
August 3, 2017

Self-Published

Ek doosre ke sahare dheer- dheere hum aage badhenge”, Maniram. (We will move further with the support of each other slowly-slowly). These golden dusts are incantation of feelings, care and synergy between the duo (Maniram and Dhadu). Persons with disabilities make their lives better and fulfilling by relying and supporting each other having sameness in experiences of society’s neglect. They trust their partners and their support that one will not let me go astray.

Sahara (support) has number of meanings which as per dictionary suggests that to “bear the weight of, especially from below; keep from falling, sinking or slipping, to keep from weakening or failing; give confidence or comfort to”. For individual with disabilities or with alternative needs, the term indicates their feelings of empathies towards each other. 

Their support for each other offers a precedent but the architectural barriers and wrong attitude of the people also portrays the downside of the society which make someone’s life unlivable. Maniram and Dhadu is fine example of this. In the end of the month the duo has to go to 30 km far away from their village to get monthly pension. The main bus stand is distant to 10 km away from the village and public transport is available from 2 km away which has no schedule and therefore is uncertain.

At the end of the month, anxiety and tension arise in both minds that “we will have to go far for getting our pension and thinking about traversing 2 km from the village to the available bus stand is formidable either”, Dhadu. Reaching to the bank for getting pension is not a problem but how to get there is point of frightening and terrible experience.

Maniram’s son assists both of them through his bike and rides them to the bank for pension when he stays at home. But his availability at home is indecisive too as he is the sole bread winner in the family. He also has to think of what he will get home today. Nevertheless when both have to go on their own; the biggest challenge for them is to cross the uneven pavement. Since walking 2 km from main neighborhood to the available transport is not less than 20 km for them.

What do we do? We go to the nearby transport by taking break for 5 minutes to sit at every 500 meter distance and to go there usually takes 1 to 2 hours. Both of us are weaker by legs so we support each other to keep from falling and slipping,” Dhadu.

The walkway is not made of concrete and is uneven and bushy. In the middle of the road, there used to be small stream which they had to cross (now the bridge is constructed right over the stream) and after crossing the stream the pavement is a source of pain in the legs of the both.

Maniram says the only source of relief is the trees, under the shadows of the trees we find peace and relaxation when we are on our way on this difficult walkway”.

Due to all these troubles and hurdles, anyhow, the duo reaches to the chikhli village (from where shared magic four wheeler sometimes available to get main bus stand). From now onwards, another struggle they have to face off that is to board on the bus or any vehicle.

Maniram with hanging face says, “I use crutches to walk but the moment I have to get on the bus, the steps of the bus is too high to go up and that causes acute pain on my affected leg. Therewithal, the gaze of public says a lot that we are unwanted and abuse of conductor works as sprinkling salt on the burn and says jaldi jaldi chado dusro ko bhi chadna hai (make it hurry, others too have to climb).

Both say, “We wanted to come out from the house but when this idea comes that the path would be too difficult and painful we are discouraged, but with the support of each other we counter many difficulties come across”.

Their relationship says a lot that one and one can become eleven too. It is obvious that sometimes we fight with each other out of love and affection. Though there is pique in the pair also. Yet they become support system for each other.

Maniram has to face great difficulty in boarding the bus as his right leg is not below the knee then I hold him and support him to climb up. When he reaches up he gives me hand I hold his hand and push myself to get climb too. We both walk together holding hand in hand which sometimes does not realize us that we are weaker”, Dhadu.

The experience of both always almost same when they traverse the road and tolerate all these obstacles silently. Even they don’t complain about this to anybody but says this is our fate. However they are heartened by each other support and trust. The duo accepts when any person gets apart the other one’s problem gets multiplies.

Dhadu shares his experience and says, “Once I was coming all alone in the late night by four wheeler vehicle. The driver could drop me at the village but he did not drop me instead he dropped me at 2 km away from the village which chikhli village. I insisted and implored him but he did not even pay any heed. That time there was 10 o’clock. After rejection from driver I started walking alone in the dark night. There was no one beside me to accompany except the terrible road and fear of insects and prongs. It took me 2 hours to reach my home. That day I felt very bad and lament on my destiny that no one can understand us. I would had not to suffer if he had dropped me at the village which would only take 5 minutes.

Such struggles they undergo everyday basis. These all events portrays negative attitude of the public and society that how they take these people and environmental barriers which is distant dream for rural people to overcome as of now; where accessible India campaign and accessibility to public transport has been one of the main objective of DRM (Disability Rights Movement) in urban society.

Despite of all odd situations, falling once, the duo stands again by holding each other’s hand and overcome these struggles, shortcomings with their courage and sense of never-to-say-die attitude. They are living their life with the support (Sahara) of each other and hope that after the shower the sun will be shining.

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