My sister’s grip on the wheelchair handles tightened, as our neighbourÂ uneasily smiled at me. I knew my neighbour’s smile was not for my goodÂ hair but to remind me I am different. My sister hurriedly, albeit gently,Â pushed me (and my wheelchair) towards the entrance of the building, awayÂ from a disabled mindset.
The squeaking sound of the wheelchair was muted by the ominous silenceÂ pervaded by the steep stairs at the entrance of the building, aÂ conspicuous example of architectural inaccessibility, inconspicuous toÂ people without disabilities.My sister was profusely sweating by the time we had reached our obstacleÂ course â the pavement.
As she manoeuvred the wheelchair along an uneven and pothole-riddenÂ pavement, I heard a soft clicking sound from my wheelchair, it remindedÂ me of a time when I used to tape a playing card on my bicycle spoke toÂ make my bicycle sound like a motorcycle.
I looked down to see that plastic covers strewn on the pavement hadÂ gotten stuck on the wheelchair and was making the sound; before I couldÂ bring her attention to it, the wheelchair came to a halt, but theÂ pedestrians behind us didn’t; they inconsiderately jolted us andÂ almost knocked me off the pavement.
We waited for the crowd and its frenzy to abate and reached the bus stopÂ at our own pace. The bus stop was desolate by the time a Low Floor BusÂ had arrived.
The bus hadn’t stopped close enough to the kerb and as my sisterÂ flexed her muscles to help me get on board. I heard a commuter mutterÂ under her breath, ‘Oh! What a nuisance! I hope that thing doesn’tÂ make me late’, her reaction was bittersweet, because I was acknowledgedÂ as an object of nuisance, but acknowledged, nonetheless.
My sister wheeled me from the bus stop to the examination centre. PryingÂ eyes accosted me; their metaphoric crooked beaks were silhouettedÂ against the blue sky ready to peck me apart with their tactlessÂ questions, idle pity and patronization, but I only paid attention to theÂ squeaking sound of the wheelchair. The moment it stopped, I looked upÂ to see a flight of stairs. I closed my eyes and imagined myselfÂ nonchalantly walking up that flight of stairs.
I felt a hand on my shoulder; her fingers gently gripped my shoulders inÂ a tacit perception of my problem. I opened my eyes, with an unwaveringÂ voice my sister asked me, “Are you ready?”
The world I knew had schools, theatres and restaurants that servedÂ over-priced food and consisted of over-crowded buses, but, the world I know, has only 4Â white walls.
The door to the outside world, has been locked by the government, public apathy, disdain and discrimination. You, hold the key to that Â door. With awareness we can make demands; demands that will pass andÂ implement effective laws, that will make everything accessible toÂ everyone.
When education becomes accessible, our performance becomes the onlyÂ question that needs answering; the only difference that matters.
Turn the key to the right and open that door.
About the author:
PM Deepak is a fellow human being and creator and author of AchaeDin. He is tenaciously passionate about widening narrow-mindedness through his writings. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines. He is an alumnus of Delhi Public School Bangalore-North.
Join him in his efforts to widen narrow-mindedness at https://m.facebook.com/AchaeDin.
You can contact himÂ by email at email@example.com.