Nandini is in deep thinking. Nandini is a beautiful ten year old girl, Beautiful and disabled. A girl who can be considered as classic beauty if she would not been on a wheelchair! Nandini overheard some distant relative was commenting to Nandini’s mother. To date Nandini couldn’t understand how a classic beauty is degraded to a crippled status just by sitting in a wheel-chair.
Nandini’s position today’s is like modern hamlet’- in deep thinking of “To go or not to Go!” The issue is Nandini’s sister’s marriage day. They were all planned to go to dinner at newly opened restaurant. Our Nandini has been hearing a lot about that place where food is nice, place is fun etc. etc… From her only sources in that busy house… servants who come and go.
Nandini was also got curious to see place. But as a good disabled child, she learned long back that she should not show her curiosity in visiting new places. So she kept quite as usual. But this dinner was something important in their household. It’s a party given by Nandini’s parents for her sister on the eve of her first marriage day. So it’s a big day in a big family.
However much Nandini wants to be part of the most talked about dinner, no one invited Nandini. There might be two reasons for this, Nandini thought, – for them I am too young to bother with an invitation or too much of a hassle to take me along.
But surprisingly the invitation came from Nandini’s cousin sister, elder to her by ten years. She is also in line for marriage, living with Nandini’s family. She was the one who told Nandini about the dinner party. She encouraged Nandini to come. She dared a bit and asked Nandini’s father on behalf of Nandini
“Oh! Sure! Why not!” –Nandini’s father replied, deeply burrowed in his papers, not lifting his head.
Nandini is ecstatic on hearing this from her cousin sister. She was happy, excited; “thank you Didi!” she told many times to her cousin.
The big day has come, being a perfectionist; Nandini planned everything- her dress, her hair, she is so fond of dressing up. She tried two or three varieties of hair styles, settled with one. She polished her nails. She took out the best dress- a pink one with laces. Nandini is all set to go!
Evening is setting in. since afternoon itself apprehension started in all. Who will wear what, who will sit beside whom… etc…Nandini can hear all the laugh and comments and jokes, chiding each other clearly. She had butterflies in her stomach. Not an easy thing… going out… she thought.
So at sharp six Pm final call has come for all to be at the parking space. All came out with laughs, Nandini pushing her wheelchair slowly, last in the line. Her cousin brother, who was loading up people and things commenting on their attire and cutting jokes, stopped in mid sentence followed by eerie silence. Only the creek of wheelchair is audible.
His face twisted with an emotion Nandini can never forget in her life. Its something that can’t be hidden despite great effort. Then he blurted out” We are taking this also???” looking at the wheelchair unbelievingly. Everyone was silent. Tears are welling up in Nandini’s eyes. At her age, life has already forced Nandini not to listen to certain remarks. Again she tried as if she hasn’t listened to this blunt remark from her cousin. “Without this how can she manage?” Nandini’s mother mumbled feebly. Cousin Sister who encouraged Nandini is nodding her head without daring to utter a word.
Looking at their faces, Nandini’s brother swore under his breath and shifted Nandini roughly to car seat and started loading the wheelchair… cursing something, Nandini thought she never would have listened. Rest of the party started packing themselves noisily, giggling all the way! Nandini looked helplessly while her mom getting into another car after a stern remark from her father; “are you coming or not??”
The group of cars started, Nandini started looking outside the window, as if nothing has happened. She tried to see outside, everything is cloudy. Then she came to know her eyes are cloudy.
They reached the hotel. Again the parade of getting out of car, Nandini started looking out for her mother. Finding her nowhere, she reluctantly shifter herself with great difficulty in to the wheelchair pulled out from car trunk. Being pushed firstly by her cousin brother and just parked her wheelchair before the hotel entrance and left and went back for others without a word. Nandini was alone at the grand front entrance and it took no time for her to fully absorb what’s before her. She heard noise and foot steps behind her. Her family came behind her. They were also stopped in mid-sentence. One group of marriage anniversary couple and some other cousins smiled awkwardly and started climbing the steps.
Now left with Nandini are her parents, brother and cousin sister and two other cousins. Nandini looked at her brother; he shrugged his shoulders in silence and started towards the steps, almost vanished into the vast lobby of the hotel with in seconds. Her cousins started debating who will take her inside! First one said to second one and got back the same reply. That debate turned into an argument and both left without pushing her chair.
Nandini’ father cleared his throat and started saying some words to Nandini; she could only make-out these words, though not in the same order ……“You are a brave girl…had great understanding…I respect that…you should understand you are different from others…You will understand better!!!”
By saying so he left Nandini and started pacing the steps and after 7 steps he asked Nandini’s mom again… “You people coming or not???”
Nandini’s mother and her cousin sister looked at her guiltily, said something in lines; “we will come back soon!!” they left in as fast as they can!
Night has completely set in. somewhere church clock chimed 8 times. Nandini was thinking and thinking deep… crying and crying her heart out!! To the last of her memory, she heard the clock chiming 10times. She has not been aware when they have come back, at what time they have fetched her, and when she was home and in to her lonely room again. She was exhausted with crying… dry and unaware of surroundings. In such delirious state of mind also, she was remembering the same thing again and again… the reason They are embarrassed at her disability, at her being in wheelchair, her polio, they don’t wish to be seen with her, they don’t like a disabled person a member of family. She thought about her abilities, her attitude, wit, wisdom, understanding… what has happened to all? She keeps on awaking with a bout of crying and feeling terrible all the time. Some bitterness seeped into her. She was scared with a shuddering thought that kept on coming repeatedly…haunting her…”is this the beginning of what she is going to face in this world??”
She woke up with a jolt next morning with sounds or laughter reverberating in the house. People are laughing, mocking each other about yesterday’s night dinner exaggerating about the grandeur of the place, great food etc…
Something has changed in Nandini she can feel. Something died inside her. She was silent, determined. She has determination coupled with fear. She has to be independent, otherwise society will her at the entrance gate… she feels. That ten year old girl became a woman in that single night. A woman… whose life was change on a dinner night… Without even having the dinner!!
Picture of Innisigh Tripathy , Who is happily married with a son. Pursuing a post graduate degree in management and a fashion designing course and above all PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED. A woman who is full of life, fun and understanding, she wishes to be a compassionate human being in life. With support from all, she wants to be a good fashion designer in coming years and counsels persons with abilities and disabilities as well. Above everything, a woman who loves her husband and son immensely says her husband is her ground where she stands in this world to lead a dignified and respectable life. She feels many of problems faced by differently abled can be known and solutions can be provided by another sufferer of these insensitivities. Do you find anything abnormal in this? SO PLEASE DON’T DISTANCE AWAY FROM A WHEELCHAIR. DisABILITY IS POWERFUL. RESPECT IT.
Note: this is a true incident. We did that just to see how many people feels this is their story and how much they are insensitive to their own people who are helpless and vulnerable at the entrance of life, without ever been given a chance to see what’s inside. All this is done just because they were embarrassed at their disability, awkwardness, their weakness, above all their helplessness. My salute to Nandini’s of this world who are silently building castles with the stones thrown on them!! INACCESS IS UNDERSTANDABLE BUT INSENSITIVITY…..????