He chose to remove ‘Dis’.
It’s a pleasant morning with a slightly cold breeze. Perfect weather indeed and I’m struggling to keep my eyes open during morning assembly at my school. It’s strange that whenever weather is pleasant, all I can think of is sleep. This is quite unlike my friends, especially my best friend Mitali, who just goes crazy in such a weather and refuses to step inside her home. I’m so sleepy that
I’m desperately waiting for the morning prayer to start so that I can comfortably close my eyes and hopefully catch some sleep standing only, just like a horse. I’m amused at the simile that I just made, although I have never seen a horse sleeping. It’s not that I’m a bad student or my school is boring. In fact,I really love my school and every morning, I look forward to come to the school.
My school, Vidya Public School, is a reputed school in the town.Thanks to the hard and consistent efforts put in by our principal Mr Jai Pratap. He ensures that school is well managed and teachers pay individual attention to every student encouraging them to pursue their fields of interest. As a result, students not only excel in studies but also participate and win medals in sports and cultural activities. Mr Jai Pratap, whom we fondly call Mr. J also ensures maintaining a healthy and joyful environment at school where in general students and teachers are happy and relaxed.
As prayer is about to start, Mr J steps on the assembly stage. One door of his room opens on the left side of the assembly stage, close to the podium. Upon seeing him, a wave of alertness swipes the assembly. It’s not that we are afraid of Mr J, actually we are very fond of him, and this alertness is a sign of respect for him. Usually, he joins the assembly immediately after morning prayer and directly goes to the podium. He addresses students for 5-10 minutes on various social issues and current topics of interest. We are mesmerised by the energy of his voice, selection of words and clarity of his thoughts. His morning address is an important part of our routine and we look forward to it.
However, today he has come before prayer. Therefore, instead of standing behind the podium which he usually does, he walks in the centre of the dais and stands next to vice principal, Ms Katherin. Yet he doesn’t fold his hands for prayer and rather raises his left hand only next to his chest. His right hand is just hanging lifelessly by the side of his body.
I’m stunned. Although we had heard rumours that Mr J’s right hand is probably paralysed, but no one was sure of this. This is because, he smartly disguises the same, either by wearing a cloak in winters or putting his right hand in the pocket. This is the first time he has openly left his hand out of pocket and in clear view of others. On the top of it, he is also wearing a half sleeves shirt clearly displaying the significant difference in the muscle size of both arms, leaving little doubt in my mind now that something is seriously wrong about his right hand.
In fact, he worked so efficiently, that I always believed that all that’s being said about his hand are only rumours. I looked around and saw other students also looking at each other in surprise. My eyes caught Mitali quietly wiping the moistness from her eyes. She looked overwhelmed. Suddenly prayer started and as a reflex, I closed my eyes and started singing, but, I am wide awake now and totally confused as I’m unable to prioritise, whether I should think about Mr J or worry about Mitali.
Two months back, my best friend Mitali lost her elder brother, Randhir. An ex-student of our school, Randhir was studying in Modern College. He was an all-rounder, good in studies, a fine singer and had a good sense of humor. All these virtues made him very popular amongst girls. Naturally, because of him, Mitali also got lot of attention from various girls, who were fond of her brother. Unfortunately, her brother met with an accident and doctors had to amputate his right leg below the knee. Doctors assured him and family that after his wounds heal, they would try an artificial leg. They were sure that with a bit of effort he would be able to live a normal life.
Randhir couldn’t bear the thought of living with a disability and went into depression. His family couldn’t realise that his depression was quite pathological and needed a drug treatment and tried to encourage him with positive thoughts and words, without consulting a psychologist, the way we normally do in India. However, in spite of full family support and assurance, he committed suicide. Suicide of her brother devastated the whole family. Naturally, Mitali is quite disturbed and this gets aggravated by seeing the plight of her parents. Looks like something again happened at her home last night. I made a note of checking with her and spending some time with her after assembly gets over.
After morning prayer was over, Mr J stepped on the podium and started addressing us. “Dear students, many of you might not be aware that my right hand is paralysed,” he continued, “When I was three years old, my right hand was paralysed due to
As prayer is about to start, Mr J steps on the assembly stage. One door of his room opens on the left side of the assembly stage, close to the podium. Upon seeing him, a wave of alertness swipes the assembly. It’s not that we are afraid of Mr J, actually we are very fond of him, and this alertness is a sign of respect for him. Usually, he joins the assembly immediately after morning prayer and directly goes to the podium. He addresses students for 5-10 minutes on various social issues and current topics of interest.
an accidental electrocution. I was too young at that time to understand the longterm implications of my loss. My parents blamed themselves and thought that I met with the accident due to their negligence. Because of this feeling of guilt and probably sympathy for my disability, they started paying more attention to me, especially in comparison to my siblings. They spent more time with me and paid attention to my studies. I would get special favours including larger chunks of sweets in comparison to my brothers. I was enjoying this attention and remained blissfully unaware of my loss until some more time. Although in a few years, I understood my disability, but fortunately by that time, I had already started to learn living with my disability. Somehow, instead of feeling depressed due to my disability, I took it up as a challenge and started developing alternate capabilities to compensate for my loss, the way we prefer to call disabled people nowadays – i.e. ‘specially abled’. Soon, I could not only write with my left hand, I also received first prize for the best handwriting in my class.”
He stopped for a while, probably allowing us to digest the whole lot of information that we were receiving. With the corner of my eye, I looked at
Mitali. I felt comfortable as Mitali was looking better now. So, I focused again on what the Principal was saying.
“Although differently abled people can also play various sports and you all might be aware that paralympics – i.e. Olympics where especially abled people can participate – are organised in parallel with Olympics, however, in my town where I grew up, there was no awareness or facility about such sports. Therefore, I naturally spent all my time studying and in spare time focused on my written and spoken language. With the support of my family and my own hard work, I’m doing quite well in my life. I’m one of the youngest Principals of the chain of Vidya Public School. Although I could compete and apply through the handicap quota, I have always applied through the general quota and
It suddenly occurred to me that it was Mitali who went to Mr J, which she later confirmed. After the death of her brother, she realised that her brother committed suicide because he couldn’t bear the thought of living after the amputation of his leg. Yet if he had some example of how people with disabilities are also doing well, he might not have committed suicide .Although we keep on hearing motivational stories of celebrities who performed extremely good even after they lose an important organ of their body.
succeeded,” he said proudly.
“However, despite all my achievements, I could never openly admit about my disability. Instead I learnt some tricks to hide it, thus I started dressing up in such a manner that most of the time my disability goes unnoticed. I never realised that instead of hiding my disability, I should rather be more open and vocal about it, so that my achievements can inspire you to fight your own limitations and inhibitions. I should have rather told you all my dear students, that no disability or limitation can stop you from achieving your goals in life unless you allow it to stop you,” his voice was trembling with emotions now.
“You must be wondering why I am sharing all this with you now. I would have rather continued hiding my disability without realising the power of openly sharing about it, but one of you came to me and explained to me that some youngsters get so depressed due to their handicap or disability that they even commit suicide. My dear students, life is much more than a leg or an arm. Life doesn’t stop by the loss of a leg or arm. Being disabled never implies being disqualified from every aspect of life. In fact, no one is perfect and all of us have one or other disability. For example, some people can’t speak well, others can’t focus and so on. Loss of an organ can be more visible, however, don’t forget that it’s just a part of life your being imperfect in this particular way. If you wish, you can develop different abilities to overcome the gap. Being blind doesn’t mean that the individual doesn’t have vision,” he was emotional and his voice was choking.
“Life is too precious to harm it over a loss. Try to look life in totality, a life of around 70 years, with 20-25 years of pure fun until college with friends and family, another 25-30 years of work and with your family and kids before you retire and eventually die. Then you will realise that all these things are too minor in front of the vastness life,” he concluded.
It suddenly occurred to me that it was Mitali who went to Mr J, which she later confirmed. After the death of her brother, she realised that her brother committed suicide because he couldn’t bear the thought of living after the amputation of his leg. Yet if he had some example of how people with disabilities are also doing well, he might not have committed suicide. Although we keep on hearing motivational stories of celebrities who performed extremely good even after they lose an important organ of their body, like Sudha Chandran is an extremely good dancer and American President. Therefore Roosevelt, various paralympians. But it’s probably more motivational when you hear the experience of someone who is around you, then you feel that the goal is achievable. Therefore, she requested Mr J to share his story with students to encourage students.