An Open Letter of a Person with Disablity

Our Honourable Prime Minister,

Dear Madam,
Your electoral manifesto included agenda on facilitating the person with disabilities in terms of education, mobility, communication as well as ensuring them a decent social status. I have heard you expressing your compassion and empathy towards the person with disabilities. I believe you will understand our plight and inhibitions and so am writing this letter talking about some of my bitter experiences as a disabled person.

As a child, I was diagnosed with an incurable condition called "Muscular Dystrophy", which left me incapacitated and bound to a chair, unable to walk. I did not get to study a lot. My rapidly deteriorating muscular condition meant I could not walk properly as a child. I would get any odd and unmannerly looks from just about everyone on the streets and in school too. I cut down socializing with others. No going to weddings, family reunions, birthdays or well, anything.

However, in other countries, the infrastructure and policies mean that the person with disabilities can lead a somewhat normal life and not face many of the problems and discrimination we face in this country. For example, Serina Row, the Manager of the Singapore Muscular Dystrophy Association, is also inflicted with the same condition. However, with the aid of an electric wheelchair, she is able to move around, complete her tasks and go about life as if nothing is wrong. 30 year old computer engineer, Harry is in a worst predicament. His parents, knowing that their son will never get better, support him in every decision he makes.

On the other hand, I have been trapped within these four accursed walls, unable to do chores on my own, flicking through channels on the TV as time rushes by. Then something amazing happened. Someone extended their arm towards me. His unconditional and unwavering love showed me a ray of hope, a glimmer of light in the dark horizon.

I wanted to start over, but, again, social barriers stopped me. How can a disabled woman, unable to even walk, supposed 2 start a family? My own father could not come to terms with the fact that his disabled daughter would marry. He went against it. In the end however, we did end up marrying.

After the wedding, whenever we went out, I would get nasty looks from passers by, the social stigma associated with being disabled was still just as real as ever.

After marrying, we went to the Eid market. This was my first time at the Eid market, and well, the staring and pointing seemed to intensify. It was as if I was some sort of circus freak. That was the last time I dared to go out.
In these four years, things have been hard on us. Still, my husband's love for me has not faltered. But love and caring cannot hide the truth of my life:.
I had hoped that I could start over again, that everything would change, everything would be normal, that this living nightmare would end. I thought my life would be better, if not as good as Serina or Harry's, still better nevertheless. I was wrong. When I finally did pluck up the courage to venture beyond these four walls, I found the world to be harsh, cold and cruel. Slowly I came to the realization that, as a disabled, my life would always be very limiting, that in the eyes of the society, as a disabled, I did not have the right to dream. My husband tried to breach this social barrier, but it turned out to be too intricate and immense a task for him alone. Maybe he too is depressed.

Around this time, my younger sister too was diagnosed with the same life crushing condition. I am trying heart and soul to convince my mother to make sure she can continue her education. She agrees, but then also says that my sister can probably only continue till her SSC. By then her condition will have worsened. Carrying her to and from school and all the hassles involved, my mother thinks she could not cope with it.

My sister hates what she has to go through. All the pointing and leering brings her down. All the snide remarks and indifference makes her weep, just as it made me weep all those years ago.

My condition has worsened a lot. I hardly have any energy any more. However I am writing to you in hopes that there will be reforms.

At present, there are about 15 million person with disabilities in Bangladesh, with the number rising by about 250 thousand each year. About the same rate being faced by many countries, both large and small, across the world. Like other countries, ours can and should also provide a decent and viable infrastructure to support us. It is not impossible, there are many countries which have achieved it to quite a high degree.

You are like my mother, so I would like to ask you a few questions.
If I were your daughter, would you keep me hidden away from society?
If my peers can go study and become something in life, why can't we? We are just as capable. We too could study and learn to support ourselves.
I see many adverts on the AIDS campaign. Why can't our influential media be used to educate people about the person with disabilities? To make everyone know that we are just like them, that we are not different. That these conditions can happen to anyone, at any time of their life.

I could go on and on, but due to restrictions, I have to end this letter here. I would love to have personally met you and would like to communicate further.
Hoping our beloved country,Bangladesh, Banga-Bandhu's Shonar Bangla, all wealth, dignity and prosperity and wishing you success in all your endeavors.
Yours sincerely, Sabrina Sultana.

(This letter was published in Bangla in different newspapers.)
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1 মন্তব্য(সমূহ):

Jahidul Islam said...

As i am also a physical disable, I have also the same experiences in my life. When I go out site from home people looks me. Its really so uncomfortable. only for this reason I tried to stay at home when I was school and college student. But now I feel that whatever people think about me I have to go out from home and to flourish myself. Now I am not bother about our painful, unawareness society.

Its true that it is very difficult to survive in our society specially for a female disable person. But as I know that you (Sabrina sultana) overcome this problem vigorously. I appreciate to all your steps that you have taken for the social awareness and your awesome letter, its really incredible.

Jahidul Islam.

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