I am a college-going girl, so a part of my day involves commuting to college from home by public transport. This means I interact with a lot of people on a daily basis. Sounds relatable? Well, this is where it all changes. I am a college-going girl, a person with a disability and a wheelchair user to be specific, which is why the type of interaction I have, changes with both known and unknown people. Based on my interaction with them, the said people can be explained in two categories, both extreme in their outlook.
The first category sees “heroism”, “inspiration”, “extraordinary” and whatnot. The second, on the other hand, is the opposite; those people see you as if you’re ‘different’ and they openly call you names, harass you and discriminate.
Although completely opposite, there is one thing that binds both the categories of people together-both of these groups fail to see the person, all they see is a wheelchair.
For some people a person on a wheelchair or any other person with a disability riding the same metro as them or doing anything which classifies as normal things according to them, could be heroic or something extraordinary; whereas, for someone else in the same situation the same thing can end up disgusting them. For example, for them sharing a metro with a person like me would be ‘lowering their standards’, often ending up with lots of expressions of disapproval, stares, absurd and inappropriate comments, like “these people should not be allowed out in the open”. This is not just limited to public places, it’s everywhere; transport, public places, lifts, workplace, buildings, residences. You will find such discrimination everywhere.
Now some of you might be wondering how this even concerns you personally. Well, the answer is, yes it does. In a country like ours, about 2.2 % of the population is constituted by persons with a disability which roughly means more than a whopping 2.6 crore people out of 121 crores.
This means that each of you reading this is likely to come across someone like me. The point is if you ever happen to meet a person with a disability, just remember that we are just like you, maybe not exactly the same, but just as much of a human as you are, if not more. And just because we do the regular stuff on our own, we’re neither heroic nor an inspiration. Normal is just a state of mind.
Treat us like people, that’s all we want, just know that we don’t talk to you for your sympathy.