When I was studying in the college in 2004 in India, a friend of mine had found an online commercial advertisement about a product called NutriSlim Powder which claimed to help people lose weight without any hard labor. I knew I was putting on weight and I was wondering how I could shed off those extra fats and stay physically fit. I never dared to remain hungry. So skipping meals was out of the option. I was doing some physical exercises but I was not getting the expected results and that was not giving me enough motivation to keep up my commitment. So when my friend recommended NutriSlim Powder to me, I got excited and wanted to give it a try. After all, its price was only Rs.1100 and with home-delivery service available, I thought it was worth trying once. So I telephoned the Asian Sky Shop at Chennai and placed the order for one packet of Slim Powder. The product reached me in a few days’ time and based on the given instructions, I started taking the product every morning and evening. The sawdust-like powder had to be soaked in water for about twelve hours before drinking. According to the instruction booklet, it claimed to help people lose appetite, burn unnecessary fats and increase the metabolic activities thereby helping the person lose weight in a short period of time. After a few days, I seemed to lose my appetite a bit and felt as though my belly was shrinking. But then it was time to order another packet because I had finished the first packet even before realizing the real effect of the product. So I ordered for the second packet but this time, I deliberately tried to test its effectiveness by eating as much as I could. I wanted to see if I had really lost my appetite but I found out whatever improvement I thought I was seeing after taking the powder was only a psychological feeling. Only then, I realized it was just a weight-loss scam.
Whenever you go to a Drayang, you would see so many beautiful young girls dancing and singing with smiles on their faces. They appear to be full of life and energy as though they are truly enjoying what they are doing. But behind those stainless smiles often lies the dark side of their life. If you get closer to their hearts and listen to their stories, it would be hard for you even to hold back your tears. But on the stage, they have learned how to hide their darker world to please their guests. Since their income depends on how many requests they can get from their guests in the audience, they are bound to appear as attractive and seductive as possible so that most of the men would pay them for the show. And I know most men go there only with one intention. They see those girls as somebody who can be lured into anything with money. But if we think with a conscious heart, we would realize that those girls are also human beings like us and deserve to be treated with equal dignity and respect, and not to be looked at just as sex objects. If human bodies were transparent enough to reveal the emotions running inside, I think most of the party-goers would be fighting their tears as the girls perform on the stage.
It is very sad that animals can’t speak our language and many of us do not have the heart to feel their emotions. Although they can’t express pain and suffering as we kill them, there is no doubt that they too love themselves like we do and have the right to live like us. In fact, I believe we all have a soft corner within our heart that naturally responds to any pain or suffering we see around us, but our worldly desires and greed often overshadow this sensitive part of us and turn us into monsters. I have realized that there are some people who exist like robots and can afford to do anything without even the slightest sense of guilt.
My wife is illiterate and looks innocent but sometimes she can really think out of the box and tiptoe far into the future. Realizing how disability can create barriers even within the family, she always tries to keep our children closer with me with the hope that they would grow up learning to accept me as their disabled father. Ever since my eldest son and my adopted daughter were 6 or 7 years old, she would let them guide me whenever we went out into the town or other places and every time I refused to walk with them not being able to trust them, she would always warn me they would hesitate to walk with me when they grow up if we don’t let them do it right now. Yes, after all, she was right. I realized that we should never let such a wall form between me and my kids right from the beginning. Hence, I always started walking with my kids whenever I went out and today, my eldest son always comes to my office after his school hours to fetch me home. As of now, both my adopted daughter and eldest son do not seem to hesitate to walk with me and this is what my wife wants to see in all the times to come.
The 21st century is truly an era of technological revolutions. With the advent of advanced technology, our life today has certainly become more comfortable and meaningful than ever. Science is continuously pushing its boundaries into the world of unexplored mysteries and trying to demystify whatever that appears beneficial for us to understand. With the expansion of scientific thinking and innovations, I think the word ‘impossibility’ is soon going to be a thing of the past. I am blind but the advanced technology has enabled me to move comfortably along with other non-disabled people, be it in the office or at home so far. Now with the advent of smart phones, my life is now becoming even more comfortable as numerous applications are being designed to help the blind see right through their mobile phones.
I must be really grateful to social media for connecting us to various people who matter to us regardless of where we live. After almost ten long years, one of my old college friends Mr. Anis Alam finally managed to trace me out on Facebook and I was literarily replete with joy when his message popped out on my timeline two days back. When I was studying BA English at PSG College of Arts and Science (PSG CAS) in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu in India from 2002-2005, Anis was studying BSC Micro Biology and he was one year junior to me. He is from Manipur, North-East India and probably due to our similar skin colour and cultural difference with Tamilians, he soon became close with Bhutanese students and we began to interact more. Eventually he became my immediate neighbour in the hostel by the time I reached my final year and he became one of my best friends. So I was really delighted to receive a long message from him after such a long gap. His message has indeed taken me more than ten years back to relive the sweet memories we had together in Coimbatore. I have copied his message below.
Until a few decades ago, the life in the village was really tough. Despite continuous hard labor in the fields, we didn’t even have enough to eat. The main staple food for people in my village used to be corn, wheat and millet. Not everybody could afford to cultivate paddy and hence, to have a rice-meal was a rare special treat. Moreover, wild potatoes and wild vegetables/fruits often used to be the alternative sources of food. Probably due to the scarcity of food supplies, we had learned to make best use of what we had. The vegetable oil was one of the most expensive items in the kitchen, yet people were able to sustain for a month or so with just over a few hundred milliliters of mustard oil. I still remember my late mother often borrowing vegetable oil from neighbors in a small flat bottle measuring two or three fingers up the bottle and that would be enough for the family for weeks. But although we were literarily poor with no enough food, I think we were healthier than what we are today. Our diet hardly contained unwanted calories and fats and even if they had, we had enough physical activities that helped us burn them. So the lifestyle diseases we see today were never a public health concern during those days.
Both my wife and I love to live in harmony with everybody in the neighborhood. We know what does it feel like to be seen as a bad neighbor and hence, we don’t want to be quietly scorned at by people whenever we walk in and out of our house. This is the main reason why we don’t show any sign of frustration to anybody else even when we sometimes feel we are being taken advantage of. This does not mean that we are the enlightened beings, but we are trying our best to accommodate everybody into our life. But sadly we have realized that not everybody shares the same feeling like we do. It’s said that wherever there is God, there is always a devil, and I think this is often true. I have realized that every community has at least one or two ill-natured people who stir up and spoil the whole social atmosphere in the neighborhood. This often makes me wonder why we the human beings, so-called social animals, are not equally blest with the ability to empathize and understand each other. It’s really sad that not all of us have the same heart to accommodate each other although we share the same human realm on this planet.