Every time I shifted in my chair or turned my wrist to watch the time — I wanted to make every one of our thirty minutes count — I felt a huge relief and exhilaration in the possibilities of my body. How little it mattered then that I would never walk, or even stand.
I told him how he had been an inspiration beyond cliche ́ for me, and, surely, for others — did that thought help him?
“No,” he said; and I thought how foolish I was to ask. When your body is a claustrophobic room and the walls are growing narrower day by day, it doesn’t do much good to know that there are people outside smiling with admiration to see you breathing still.
“Is there any advice you can give disabled people, something that might help make life better?”
“They should concentrate on what they are good at; I think things like the disabled Olympics are a waste of time.”
“I know what you mean.” I remembered the years I’d spent trying to play a Spanish guitar considerably larger than I was; and how gleefully I had unstringed it one night.
Kanga adores Hawking with each passing minute, and with every twist and turn of his body, he checks his watch to see how long he has in order to spend quality time with the legend. He knows that he only has half an hour and does not want to waste it. He wants to make every minute count. When one is in the presence of something that makes one happy, all troubles are forgotten. Kanga relishes all the possibilities of his body and feels a huge relief. When we think we are facing the utmost difficulties and see someone who has more troubles than us making the best use of life, we tend to be grateful for all the little blessings in our life. In the presence of Hawking, Kanga experiences the greatest happiness, that at that moment, he does not mind the fact that he cannot walk or even stand.
Kanga tells Hawking that he had been beyond an inspiration in his life, as there are several factors that connect them. He also emphasises on the fact that it is not a cliche ́, as very often we hear people say that they are inspired by someone just for the sake of saying it. When Kanga asks if the thought that Hawking had inspired many people helps him in any way, he replies with a quick no. Kanga immediately realises that it was a foolish thing to ask. When one lives with a disability, knowing that with each passing day, one is getting one step closer to more pain or death, it is not a pleasurable thing to know that normal people are getting inspired by the mere fact that one exists. He again compares this existence to a claustrophobic room where the walls keep shrinking as days pass. It is easy for healthy people to smile at disabled people's struggle and take inspiration from it, as they do not understand the pain behind it.
When Kanga asks if Hawking wants to give any advice for disabled people for making their life better, he replies that they should concentrate more on what they are passionate about and work on it. He also says that hosting Olympics for disabled people does not change anything and is a waste of time. This is because when disabled people are pressured into achieving something they are not good at, it might not give proper end results. Instead, one needs to focus on his passion and work on his skills, irrespective of his disability. The author completely understands this point as he remembers how he had tried to play a Spanish guitar which was more than his size. He was not really passionate about it. But in order to make himself feel worthy, he decided to take it up as a cover to his insecurity. He only managed to unstring the guitar overnight as it was something that he was really good at.
Meaning of difficult words:
|Exhilaration||A feeling of excitement|
|Cliché||A phrase that is overused|
|Claustrophobic||Fear for closed spaces|
|Wrist||The joint that connects the forearm and hand|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2008). Honeydew. A Visit to Cambridge - Fridaus Kanga (pp. 96-104). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.