During school, all my friends would receive texts like “you’re beautiful!”, “love your eyes”, “Ah! what a smile.” While I received texts like “what ‘problem’ do you have?”, “hey, why are you on a wheelchair?”, “may god bless you” etc. and mind you, this used to be the first thing they would ask/tell me. Back then, it used to be really annoying. I never moved out of my classroom till class 10th. (I’m really grateful to my class 11-12th friends who tried making a more inclusive space for me.
I always had a lot of guy friends but dating one, was something I couldn’t even think of. Because I had my own stereotypes about me and they had their own. (Some of them still have those stereotypes – while I have become more confident about myself and have broken my own stereotypes long, long back).
Aunties would tell me that I had a pretty face, but at the same time they would also say something like, “par bhagwaan ne bohot bura kiya, haalat dekho bechari ki. Tch tch.” (God has been very cruel to you). They still do, but, I have some amazing replies for them now.
Long back, I had a little hard time accepting and loving myself.
I still receive messages like those all the time, and random aunties and uncles still tell me how sorry they are for me. It doesn’t break me or discourage me anymore, but it makes me think. It makes me think why is it that the first thing people notice is my disability and never me?
I think it’s the assumptions that we need to work upon. Assumptions like:
1. Disability equals to something bad.
2. Disabled are poor helpless beings who deserve nothing but sympathy and only sympathy.
3. Love and disability can never go together.
There’s a long long list of such assumptions and stereotypes, but I have mentioned these three because I specifically wanted to write about them.
I have always tried to make it clear that disability isn’t something to be ashamed of. I have met people with disabilities who aren’t very confident about themselves and it breaks my heart. No one should ever feel unworthy and less confident because of how they look. Be it a person with a disability or a non-disabled person. You don’t have to have a perfect body and a particular appearance. You are you. And that is enough. You are beautiful and you must know that.
And when it specially comes to disability, just remember disability isn’t bad. It doesn’t make one less human. It doesn’t change their heart. It doesn’t demand to receive unnecessary attention and sympathy. And it doesn’t make one less lovable.
We are allowed to love and be loved. To take care and be taken care of. Love is beyond abilities and disabilities, perfections and imperfections. Love is much more pure. If you are friends with someone with a disability, remind them their worth. Remind them that you are not ashamed of them. Try to see them as any other human. Try to look for the person they are.
If you’re person with a disability, I Want you to know that you’re amazing and you are doing great. I want you to know that you deserve just as much as respect as others and as much love as others.