Sunday, September 21, 2008

Short Sighted!

I work in sales, and travel every day, visiting stores, to check how they are doing. Everyday I see various sights, meet various people, hear various conversations... and some stay on. Such was one of the encounters I had, which I wanna share with you all.

Yesterday I was at a store, talking to my retailer, when a family walked in. A man dressed in white safari suit, a lady (looked like his wife), in a brown salwar suit, complete with jewellery and sindoor, along with a baby girl, also dressed up for the occasion. The occasion? Probably to buy a new cell phone. Along with them was also a heavily built man in black sunglasses. Only after a while, when he did not remove them did I realise that he was blind.

I stood at a distance, observing the family. The little girl was running around, her daddy taking care of her. Mom was trying to keep an eye on the husband and kid, as well as look at the various models the retailer was showing them. Who was he "showing" them to? The blind man. Though I could not figure out what was the relationship of that man with the family, I did realise he was someone important. He was the one who got them here, and HE was going to buy 2 cellphones. One for himself, one for them. And he was the one taking in all information about every feature of the cell phone.

Mind you, that guy knew everything there is to know about cellphones. He was touching the dummy and figuring out every inch of the phone with his fingers. He was asking questions incessantly, and I could see the look of surprise on the retailer's face too. "I want camera.. how many mega pixels is in this phone?" I wondered what he wanted a camera for, and immediately admonished myself for being such a bitch. So what if he cannot see, that doesn't mean he cannot buy a camera phone. He was a demanding customer, he wanted to make sure he is buying the best only. He must have spent about 1/2 hour, carefully examining all the models before finally making his decision.

One of the phones cost Rs. 1515. He deftly reached into his pocket, removed his wallet, took out exactly 3 500 rupee notes, touched them to make sure that they were right. From another pocket he took out a ten rupee note and a 5 rupee coin, again confirming with his fingers that they were the right notes and coins. And so, without any help from his family, he confidently paid for his phone.. "Yeh lo bhaiya, mere 1515 rupaye." Impressed, the retailer pocketed the money and handed out the bill, which the man examined again with his fingers, then he neatly folded it and put it in his pocket. And then with a smile on his face, he beckoned the rest of the family to leave. They took his hand and helped him climb the stairs, and they were gone.

Having observed this meticulous exercise of purchasing a feature-laden cellphone, ensuring every part of the phone, charger etc. is fine, and tendering exact change, all of this WITHOUT any help from anyone, I realised that while that man was blind, it is I who was short sighted.

It is so easy for us to feel pity for physically handicapped people, without ever understanding what they go through, and most importantly, without understanding what they are capable of. Disability in itself is a derogatory term... In my experience, these people are anything but disabled! They might not possess some things we take for granted, like eyesight or a limb, but DISABLED they certainly are not. Do not assume they are incapable of taking care of themselves. Everyone deserves a life of dignity. Let us give them that. Not pity or sympathy.

6 comments:

Yashika Totlani said...

Apt last paragraph! Smooth post... Iv seen my share of visually challenged too. Very capable people, I must add. But u sure u havent exaggerated anywhere abt the man's abilities, and his family's indifference to the whole affair? :P

nice line of thought... though obviously not previously unheard of. Iv heard people discuss this... a disability might be a disability to us, but for some its a part of life. And a part they've figured how to live around, mind you.

Sugar&Spice said...

@yahsika... thnx... but I swear, He did it ALL on his own. thats what left me so affected!

the lazy knight said...

having spent a lot of years with someone who possessed certain physical limitations i am familiar with the feeling of surprise that catches people when they see such a person executing day to day tasks in a normal fashion. they now have a new word for them ' differently abled' - and when i see such a person, i cannot help harbouring a sense of admiration - for i, when faced with a challenge only have to summon the strength of will...they have to summon much more

Sugar&Spice said...

@affy... can i call u that? :))
differently abled... hmmm.. now thats a term i hadnt heard of till now... and i share your admiration for people who overcome all odds in life, take them in their stride. takes a lot of courage and willpower to do that.

AshenGlow said...

Absolutely. If one talks about will power and perseverance, 'disabled' will have a different definition...

Sadly, it doesnt occur to people that there would be people living a happy and a perfectly normal life despite such problems. They need a revelation.. a proof. For instance, it took a movie by super Khan for people to understand that dyslexia is not a disease and can be cured... But thank God.. at least they understand now. Or so...

Thanks for sharing this experience with all of us, adi... It was great reading this. Really!

Sugar&Spice said...

@lekha... thanx dear, like you i hope too that TZP has had a permanent effect on the minds of the indian people...