“Poor boy, you look so nice and good, why had fate been so cruel to you ?”, asked an old lady as I was waiting below the only tree outside the visa consulate office in Chennai.
I had never seen her in my life and neither did she know me. I was standing for almost an hour, abled by my crutches and holding on to all my documents needed for the interview. And she was selling flowers just close by there. I didn’t know what to reply her with as I was reminded of one more such question long back.
“So are you ‘really’ going to go to the U.S and live there alone ? Are your parents too allowing you to do this ?”, asked the watchman outside the exam centre for G.R.E. He too had seen me struggling and waiting for about 3 hours outside the building.
A fight with them or a talk against them would have been of no use. They’d think “As such he is disabled. And adding to that look at how egoistic and talkative he is. Guess that is the reason he is disabled. No wonder God punished him.” Such is the attitude of most people. Fight by a disabled brews hatred, silence brews gossip and overcoming the difficulties sympathy.
I thought I would write about them in some forum or some magazine. But then writing in disabled forums, after being silent infront of those two people, would be an insult that I would be inflicting on a fellow being from their backs. And i didn't want to do that.
Inside me I was fuming then and wanted to shout, “Why the hell on earth are you bothered of my fate and dreams ?”. But then if i do that, she'd say that she was only expressing her sympathy and niceness to me while I inturn was being rude to her !
So, I thought I should follow my words i once wrote in my blog. I thought i would convert her statement into a morale booster and become even more passionate about what I want. I smiled at her and moved on. She was happy that I felt her ‘sympathy’ for me and wished me all the best.
I got my Visa an hour later and made preparations for journey back to Hyderabad from Chennai. I wanted to see the old lady and boast to her of my success but she was no where to be seen.
That evening though, while returning in the train, I was wondering what if I didn’t get the visa. I was wondering what would have happened not only to my life but also to my attitude with regard to the old lady. Would I have wished to see her ? Would I have smiled at her when I returned with a failure too ? “Certainly not, you are no angel”, said my mind ! “Had you not got the visa, you’d have atleast said a couple of scathing words at her on seeing her and got off your anger and disappointment on her. And that infact would have actually helped a few people like you who’d face her in the future even if it meant you were bad. And now, this visa of yours is only a ticket for her to commit further sins and a chocolate to a crying baby in you that was hurt by her words but on seeing the chocolate is trying to forget it.”
“Hmm. I’ll not let that happen. Like people break coconuts at the temples, I promised myself that day that I’d do one act for people like me who had to face people like her. I’ll prove and at the same time make everyone see the proof that I am worth no less and that it was her fate actually which made her question me on my disability while overlooking her own state. ”, I thought.
I came to the U.S. very well remembering the promise I made to myself. I had to prove that I was worth the dream as well make people see it.
So, as three months passed and as I was well settled here apart from earning a contract of research scholarship for my studies, I thought I should start to work on my promise.
I thought i would write, write elaborately and write passionately against people for their attitudes towards the disabled. But then I was damn very sure that no one would read it purely for its length and that it’d not have the impact I promised myself to make. It would be like I attempted and intended to fulfill my promise but failed in its execution.
So words will not work. I told myself.
I had to make a hard hitting statement. Something which without saying anything says everything. Not only about me but also people like me. Something I thought that’d show the world through actions and not words what I and every disabled person was at heart – Courageous, risk taking, loveable, sensitive, caring, daring and full of life.
And I was looking for one act that would summarize and show it all. That was when I came across the advertisement for skydiving. An act that would require a person to take a flight from Chicago, U.S.A., go upto 14000 feet in air and tied to another person, jump out from the plane falling freely for about 12000 feet before pulling the parachute to land.
“That is exciting”, I thought. “And that would make everyone see what I wanted them to see ! A Courageous, Risk taking, Daring and full of life Sai”