That the Bill will soon become a law is a step forward and I am glad the disabled in India finally have something to celebrate. However, let’s not for a moment become complacent and believe that battle has been won. It has just begun.
And then I was back, swiping away. My profile had changed, the filters had changed and so had my luck. I got two matches. The first was a girl I didn’t find particularly attractive but I still decided to message her. This was my first trip down dating app alley and I stumbled into it like a drunk in a disco.
However, my first thoughts were “that’s the end of movies in theatres for me”. I live a kilometre away from a mall in Gurgaon. However, I’ve been to the theatre only once courtesy the intimidating storey of steps that I had to tackle to reach my seat. Now there is one more fear of being branded ‘anti-national’ because I can’t stand up for the national anthem.
My meeting with Preethi was a similar moment of awakening for me. I’ve never really been sad about what I cannot do. I am an eternal optimist who believes he’s the best thing that’s happened to the world. However, on Sunday night, I took a moment to appreciate what I do have. I think that occasionally we all should.
Imagine the life of a child who loves reading books but can never visit a bookstore. A young man who stops visiting his physiotherapist because the hospital he has been to all his life, suddenly has a new staircase. Imagine a person living a stone’s throw away from a theatre but having never seen a film, there. And imagine being 29, educated, earning, yet, never being able to visit an ATM to access his own money.
India has not exactly been a champion of the privacy of its citizens, nor has it been a guard against health hazards. I am inclined to trust the judgement of the Unites States of America on both these matters.
It is time that we in the disabled community decide how we want the world to see us. Are we open to being regarded as complete individuals with likes and dislikes and emotional highs and lows? Can we be both perfect gentlemen as well as complete rascals?
An initial attempt to make the Railways disabled-friendly were SLRD coaches. This acronym stands for Second Class Luggage Rake for Disabled Passengers, but I thought of it as Sad Luck trying to Ride, Disabled Passengers.
I’m a member of the disabled club. While I have a large and diverse set of friends today, this wasn’t always the case. In school, I was a social outcast, with my social interactions limited to the answers I gave to the teachers’ questions. Not that the teachers really believed in me, or thought that I’ll be an eminent alumnus one day. What they had was an ocean of sympathy for this boy in a wheelchair who was doing something beyond just sitting in a wheelchair.
It was on the 23rd of December that I appeared before the Delhi High Court with a request for the exemption of the disabled from the "Odd-Even rule" and the monthly "Car-Free Day" introduced by the Delhi Government. Many asked me why did you need to go to court?