Sunday, October 26, 2014


Pappu is my friend from our village Rajapur in Bhadohi (also called as a carpet city, which is a town in state of Uttar Pradesh). I meet him every time I visit Rajapur, rather he makes it a point to meet me whenever he knows that I am in Rajapur. He can't speak or hear, he was not born with these disabilities but he lost his hearing ability (and hence speech also) because of some serious illness during his early childhood. People from village also say that if he could have received proper treatment then he would have regained these abilities but it didn't happen because of so many reasons. He is more than 30 years of age now, he is physically very strong because he does most of physically demanding work. He has his own method of communicating with people around him. Because of his condition he couldn't go to school, there is no separate school for people with special abilities in or near my village and other schools don't admit students who are not "normal" according to them. So he couldn't take any formal education in any school this is the reason he also doesn't know universal sign language which people who can't speak use all over the world but this didn't stop him from inventing his own sign language with which he can communicate with others. I don't understand his sign language but most people (even small kids) can understand this special sign language very well and can have normal conversation with him. I need an interpreter who can explain me his gestures and then tell him what I want to say to him, fortunately I always find someone who is willing to do this job happily for me. My interaction with him is always memorable and special one.

His desire and ability to communicate with others is amazing, he can talk on almost every subject starting from politics, family disputes, village gossips to his devotion to god, his work etc. As I wrote he does most of physically demanding work like farm work, taking care of cattle, cleaning home, etc. This is his main USP many families call him to perform some tough tasks which they think is not possible for people from their own families to carry like milking some cow which has some temper issues, may be they call him because they think it is not safe for people from their own families to engage in these tasks and as Pappu is used to do these type of jobs he readily agrees to perform them for anyone. But his sign language is very specific to our village anyone from outside our village cannot understand it. He can manage to communicate well with people from our village but he can,'t do the same with anyone who doesn't belong to our village. I always feel bad for him because of this just because of this small thing his life is confined to this small village, he is forced or one can say engineered (from his childhood) to perform certain type of jobs. It is not that there are no facilities in India where people like him can't get proper training to overcome any disabilities and live their life like any other person but these things are not accessible to everyone, specially in villages there is lack of awareness about these issues. This situation still persists even today in many parts of rural India and I hope it changes very soon.

Pappu is living his life to best of his abilities, he is trying to make best of whatever society has offered to him but he still has a desire to get married and have a family like many people of his age around him. Actually he got married once but his wife died recently because of hepatitis, he was not happy with his marriage as he thought he deserved a 'normal' wife like everyone else around him. Even today expresses his desire to get remarry and most people around him don't think it is going to happen. Pappu also don't want to marry a girl which is not 'normal' he was not happy with his first wife, may be he thinks that his kids also won't be 'normal' kids if his wife is not 'normal'. People like him don't need sympathy but they need fair treatment and equal opportunity. They are often considered as 'abnormal' by people around them and this is very wrong, there are many examples all over the world (including India) where people with special opportunities displayed their capabilities and talent if given proper training and opportunities. Even these examples failed to change completely attitude of society towards people like Pappu, still they get lot of sympathy but no equal treatment. Pappu doesn't need any sympathy, I find him capable enough to do any job if he is offered proper training, but he is confined to do particular tasks which he does excellently but not because he chose that field but he was forced from his childhood to do those jobs because of his situation. I am sure there are many Pappus in our society who can not explore their true potential just because society's attitude towards them. Situation in cities is slightly better but in villages government needs to carry aggressive awareness campaigns, they need to carry out similar awareness campaign about people with special abilities like they do for girl education or women rights. Inspite of all odds against them people like Pappu fight against all odds and excel in whatever work they do, this clearly shows that they have immense potential and talent. Everyone deserves equal treatment and opportunity, this is a true meaning of equality. Gender discrimination is a serious issue but discrimination because of some disability is also equally serious issue. This issue is very serious and needs urgent attention from government and society, I hope that people in India change their attitude towards people with special abilities.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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