Normally, I am a jolly person blest with an open heart to accommodate anybody who respects me for what I am. Although I am blind, I force myself to squeeze out of my little dark world to mingle with people around me because that often helps me forget the sad realities of my personal life. I love to smile and laugh with people as long as they don’t hesitate to accept me into their group with respect and dignity. I believe I am a person with cool temperament and that I don’t easily get angry. But that does not mean that I am an enlightened soul. As an ordinary human being, I too have a heart that can be hurt if pricked hard.
What irritates me the most is the way some people try to practically make fun of me in the public, as though I am a kid or a pet. There are some people in my circle of friends who seem to enjoy making fun of me and my disability. When they see me walking, they often stand up right in the middle of the path blocking my way and would not move away or speak a word until I guess their names correctly. Similarly, there are people who come to shake hands without speaking a single word and wait for me to recognize them. Then there are others who irritate me by briefly pulling me aside and running away, or pinching me lightly as a hint for me to recognize them. I don’t understand what the hell they are trying to do by letting a blind person recognize them at a blank point. People know pretty well that we the visually impaired people can recognize other people only by their voice and yet the way some people expect us to recognize them without talking is what irritates me the most. They might view it as a practical joke, but I view it as an insult and humiliation. Would they do the same to somebody who can see? The answer will be ‘never’. Whenever people behave in such a way with me, I personally try to call out who he or she is and if I don’t get the response right away, I totally discard the person and go my own way. I will have to be honest here: I won’t mind even punching my best friend if he or she irritates me continuously like this. I might sound harsh here but this is what I am if I am dragged into such a situation.
The latest incident happened to me last evening when I was walking home from office with my son. As I was walking down from the Swimming Pool junction towards Kelki School, there was this guy following me from behind who kept making the noise of a car-horn with his mouth hinting at me to recognize him. I don’t care who he was but that was a total insult to me in the midst of pedestrians walking up and down the road. I kept ignoring him by talking to my son about his day’s lessons because I was already boiling from within. I know he must be one of my friends only, but I don’t care who the hell he was as long as he treats me like a toy. Was he thinking that I might mistake him for a car and give him way just because I can’t see him? Being blind does not mean that we deserve to be fooled around. So friends, I will value your friendship only if you value mine. A true friend won’t make fun of the other friend like this regardless of whether he or she is a disabled. My colleagues in Youth Center Division are all good to me. I never feel different while being with them. So, my dear office friends, I would like to thank all of you for considering me worthy of being part of you despite my disability. I would like to earnestly request you all to help me spread this message into the wider community because I know there are many people who make fun of people with disabilities, especially the blind. Even my brother-in-law, Mr. Santabir Rai who works in the Department of Geology and Mines, Ministry of Economic Affairs has similar experiences to share. He says he once even flung his lunch-box away and smashed it down the table while having lunch after one of his colleagues silently sneaked into his room and irritated him by pulling his lunch-box away from him repeatedly whenever he lifted up his spoon. Later, the staff felt sorry and had to buy him lunch from the cafeteria. Although it might look funny for the sighted people to irritate blind people, it’s never funny for us. We want people to be in our shoes and respect us with dignity for what we are. After all, we are also ordinary human beings worthy of living in harmony with everybody else in the society.
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