And suddenly I felt weak all over. Growing up disabled, you get fed up with people asking you to be brave, as if you have a courage account on which you are too lazy to draw a cheque. The only thing that makes you stronger is seeing somebody like you, achieving something huge. Then you know how much is possible and you reach out further than you ever thought you could.
Firdaus Kanga makes the phone call in a haste as soon as he heard from the guide about Stephen Hawking. He does not wait to plan or think much about making the call, as it is an action made out of curiosity and reverence. Hawking is someone who is confined to a wheelchair and yet has made it big in the world. He is an inspiration to Kanga, who is also confined to a wheelchair and striving towards achieving huge things. Kanga emphasises how physically strong do not tend to understand the difficulties faced by disabled people. After making the phone call, Kanga feels weak in the knees. When we want to achieve something, we get fuelled up and make the preparations in haste, as our mind is only focussed on the goal. But when it is finally time to meet or face the end result, we tend to get nervous. For example, we might want to get admitted into a college, put in efforts to prepare and even take up the exam. But on the day of the result, we tend to get weak in the knees. Similarly, Kanga did not think when he made the phone call as he was so keen to meet Hawking. But once the appointment gets scheduled, he faces the reality that he is going to meet his idol and is scared that he might mess it up.
Nervous man in a wheelchair
Kanga also talks about toxic positivity by people around him who are physically strong. People tend to throw phrases and quotes about courage, being strong, being positive etc. Although it is important for people to motivate each other, it is also necessary to empathise with other human beings. Kanga is fed up of people making superficial comments on being courageous and brave, without considering the fact that he his experiences and struggles as a disabled person is different. He recalls funnily that he does not have a courage account in the bank from which he can withdraw it any time that he wants to. People need to understand that each person's experiences, lifestyle choices, ambitions are different and that human beings are allowed to feel emotions like fear, anger, love etc. Some people get things easily and some others do not have the same privileges and tend to feel certain emotions in a different way. But when we converse with a person who is going through the same thing as we do, it is easier to relate to various situations. It is also inspiring when one sees them achieve great heights, as it gives one the confidence that it is possible. It makes us reach out further to attempt and strive towards greatness.
Meaning of difficult words:
CourageThe ability to do something that frightens one
HasteIn a hurry
CuriosityEager to learn or know
ReverenceUtmost respect
PrivilegesSpecial advantages and rights
Cheque Form to pay a stated amount from a bank
EmpathiseUnderstand and share the feeling of the other
SuperficialPartially true
IdolA person who is highly adored
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2008). Honeydew. A Visit to Cambridge - Firdaus Kanga (pp. 96-104). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.