Has it ever happened to you that something that had been so very significant to everybody around you was only a matter of fact to you? And sometimes you just ended up wondering in frustration that why on earth, something this silly is so important for people. I have and I still don’t understand a large part of the story.
People who know me personally are aware of the fact that my right hand thumb is missing. I was born with this anomaly. I don’t remember a single moment when I have felt embarrassed because of it or tried to hide it. It was just a part of me. Just like my hair are jet black, my height is only 5’2” and my body structure is a certain way, very similar to that is the fact that I don’t have a thumb on a right hand and it has only 4 fingers. Yes, I am aware of disadvantages of it that I am not confident in driving a two-wheeler because of lack of grip; I cannot wear lot wrist jewelry. But these disadvantages are same as the ones because of my height or my built. There is nothing really missing in me.
I remember that as a little girl when I was asked this question, I didn’t know the answer to it. So I must have asked my Mom and she told me that I was playing with a knife as a baby and cut my thumb accidently. So this is what I used to tell anybody who asked me about it. I remember feeling special because my teachers gave me special importance, people didn’t forget me and even as a little girl I felt that there is something different about me. If only it affected me in any way, it only made me more confident. Then when I was 8-10 years of age, I overheard my dad tell one of his friends that I was born with it. For the first time I felt stupid believing that I lost my thumb while playing with a knife.
People who loved me and cared for me definitely felt it very strongly that I should not think of me as less than anybody. So even if there was any comment from anybody, they fought on my behalf. This one incident stayed in my mind and I am surprised it did because when it happened I was hardly 4-5. My elder sister and I along with her friends were having fun applying henna on our hands. And when my turn came, I insisted to get my left hand decorated and I told my sister that my right hand is not pretty. Young as I was, I saw her get hurt. For me, it was quite a natural, innocent thing to say. But when she said that I should never ever say something like this again, I was quite surprised and quietly agreed. I never did say anything like that ever again. There was one more incident when I was 10-11 and one guy in school commented on my hand, my best friend went and slapped him for saying something like this. Though, for me, it was not really required to get into a fight for a silly comment by somebody who was nobody to me.
It was never in my head. I never understood why my parents were so worried about it. My dad took me to the best hospitals in country in a hope to get a solution to this problem. But none of the solutions were satisfying. I got frustrated because I didn’t see the problem. Finally when I was old enough to understand, I told him that I don’t want to visit any more doctors for this.
It is not important how you are perceived by others. I know a lot of people would have made me a sympathy piece a few others would have thought “Who would marry this girl”. There must have been others who would have felt pity towards me. Of course, there had been nasty comments regarding this that had come my way.
Disability to a large part is considered less. People with anything missing in their bodies are considered weak and largely a target for sympathy. But we need to remember that it is not the body but the mind that holds the power and as long as the dedication and power exists – disability in body shouldn’t even come in the way.
I read about a lady who met with an accident and lost one of her legs. It was a very scary and tragic accident few years back. Today she is a happily married and working mother of two. First thought that I had was – how did she manage her pregnancies? While reading her blogs, she mentioned her challenges (particularly while being pregnant) and the dedication to keep exercising to stay fit and have healthy babies. She manages a full time job and two small kids – I know what that means because I struggle to keep up with my life with just one kid and only one missing thumb.
For anybody with a disability, all they need is a support system. They don’t need sympathy, comments, pity or judgments. They need support from all of us – individuals, organizations and governments. So do whatever is in your power to be a support to such people because they are as powerful as any other individual on this planet.