Time has been running. Taking leaps and bounds and failing to stop for me to take a quick breath.
There is so much that I want to pen down, as I haven’t been able to write since quite a time. But I have often witnessed that when in an adrenaline rush, people fail to deliver the right quality and hence, I shall not commit the same mistake. I will take a deep breath, close my eyes, blaze over memories in the couple of months gone by and jot this blog down.
My dad used to say, sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever. I remember dreading the term “decision”. The entire process of weighing pros and cons, predicting outcomes, doing a cost-benefit analysis, is just so taxing. I used to try and evade the term and its reality, unaware of the fact that there will come one day when I will have to either cross the fence or remain on the other side.
The hourglass was running down and I needed to decide how to spend the next two years of my life – whether to continue something I’d been closely associated with, or let it go by. On nights and days alike, I was surrounded by these extremely existential questions – Am I headed in the right direction? Do I have the right team to go ahead with? Do I have the wrong products? Do I lack the skill set required?
To be honest, I still have doubts like these lingering in my head. But there has been one change. I started to neglect what I thought the outer world would perceive of me, I started to literally chase what I like, began delving deeper into processes I wanted to explore and areas I felt were closer to me.
This was all about a small venture, nothing big.
While working on the same venture I met a person, very driven, committed and drawn towards a concept that was surprisingly quite alien to me. His team had been striving to pull off a transformational campaign that aimed to revive the way a lay person thought about any human who was specially abled. At first I thought why should I even think about a cause which is no where related to me. In my extended family and my close relatives there is no person who is specially abled. I’ll be true to myself and declare that I have not even had any incidents wherein I had to be friends with or work with a man or woman who was specially abled.
When I first met this man, he told me that usually parents of these kids are the ones who care about the cause very deeply and have even laid foundation stones of India’s most famous NGOs working to empower the disabled. It was strange, but I somehow felt connected to the cause, when I read a story, after I came back home from the meeting.
I read an article written by the mother of an autistic kid. All throughout the blog, she mentioned that there was hardly any awareness or understanding of autism back then. When I tried to collate this with the current scenario – it stands so true even now. My friends and I did not know what the disability meant, before we joined hands in the campaign. Its actually a shame – the extremely privileged environment that all of us have been brought up in, failed to teach us the basic rules of inclusion and diversity. I remember rote learning that Geography lesson in Class 9 which proclaimed “Unity in Diversity”. Unfortunately, “unity in diversity” was only rote learned and not imbibed by any of us, so-called top rankers of schools and states.
In the story, the mother disclosed that many people around her told her that she was beating her head on the wall – when she made efforts to bring her child to the mainstream. She was pushing the boundaries of the school, the society, her family and friends in order to make them accept her beloved child, the way he was born. On her path, each day, she was struck by skepticism, doubt, resistance, opposition from all quarters – home, friends, school, society and the list goes on. She managed to conquer them all. Today her son stands so proud holding a top degree in science from an extremely reputed institution. The degree brings with it years of hardwork, relentless efforts, pain and hardship of both the son and the mother. It is indeed rightly said, the best things do take time to come.
But in this journey, where do we all stand?
Society played no other role apart from discouraging the mother-child.
Connecting it with all my experiences and literally, joining dots backwards, I only see everything falling into the same place. I am wondering how difficult it would have been for that mother to take a decision and comparing it with myself cribbing over small decisions. It is all about courage and more than courage, belief in something. Belief in things you know will take their time to shape up, but will bloom the most when they fully mature. It’s about the courage of taking simple decisions of choosing teams, working on dreams and doing what you feel is right. If all of us start thinking about “Oh what the other people will think?” I fear there would be anything but duplicate and pirated samples of hollow work in this world.
Even if a so-called “able person” is unable to think independently, and moreover inclusively, I will literally begin to doubt their “ability”.
Each person is unique. Abled or disabled. Privileged or not so privileged. No one really needs to be empowered, they need to be made to meet their true confident self and the work is done. Through the campaign, we are intending to bring rapid awareness about the term ” inclusivity” in all its dimensions. I would request each person reading this, to not “rote-learn” this term like your Class 9 Geography textbook. But rather imbibe it in your day to day interactions with all kinds of people around you. Fat, anorexic, stunted, blind, autistic, retarded, dumb or deaf – no matter what, every person is intrinsically the same and deserves equal respect in society. Whether its about taking big decisions like that of raising a differently abled kid or something as trivial as choosing what to wear when out in public, each person should be capable of making and standing by their own decisions, unquestioned.
Waiting for tables to turn and times to change.