” You have committed sins in your last incarnation”

From the time I gained consciousness, I have been hearing this sentence from whoever speaks to me – irrespective of the age or relation of the person. This sentence has haunted me for long and when I heard even educated people say this sentence over and over even in towns and cities ( let alone in the village I was born), I am forced to think of the cause that makes people utter this sentence.

The immediate cause I can think of is sympathy and the helplessness that a person wants to convey. Disability is a difficulty faced by the person affected by it and other person can do little to remove the ‘ handicap’ . The person feels his/ her ‘ helplessness’ in such situations. This has been the general trend of society. People like to connect present inconveniences to past evil deeds and console.

Another reason, and important one, is that people somehow do not accept or see the reality of the problem. For instance, disability is caused by certain diseases, congenital problems or more importantly, malnutrition of the pregnant mother. Thus, there are concrete causes for the disability he or she inherits ir acquires during life. These real causes are glossed over. That is, scientific explanation is sidelined .

Leaving the validity of ‘ incarnation’ or past births, the whole attitude is misleading and I feel, it causes pessimistic thoughts towards life. The differently abled person needs not ‘ consolation ‘ by attributing ‘sins of the past’ but a concrete assessment of the nature of disability, cause of disability and ways of overcoming it.

Compared to past, technology has come as a great boon to assist persons with specific disability. But, very few people are able to access it. Even now, persons living in towns rarely learn Braille, let alone computers with speech synthesisers. They live with constant rhetoric of ‘ sins in past incarnation’. As they grow, they get habituated to this sort of ‘ resign to fate’.

As I ponder through the memories, I feel had I resolved to my ‘ fate’ , had I learned to write and read?

Sheshu Babu is a writer from anywhere and everywhere and who wants to foster the whole world.

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  1. Farooque Chowdhury says:

    “As I ponder through the memories, I feel had I resolved to my ‘ fate’, had I learned to write and read?”

    I fully understand your message, SB. You are brave. Your tireless effort is exemplary.

  2. Sally Dugman says:

    You are wise, Sheshu, to take such an enlightened and insightful stance. … It sort of reminded me of Borges of whom I wrote in “Dealing With Tragedies In Life” at Countercurrents. Here’s an excerpt:

    I’m not the only one who tries to use grave disorienting troubles in constructive ways. For example, I remember when Jorge Luis Borges,
    an incredibly gifted writer and director of a huge library system, got
    blind. Then he was lecturing at Columbia University and a student there
    asked him about the way that he handled being blind in light of his book
    passions, job and purposes in life.

    Borges graciously answered that he didn’t consider blindness to be a
    loss, but just a changed condition. It was so especially as it strongly
    heightened his other senses and awareness overall.

    He found the adjustment and differences for his new state
    interesting. It all is about the way that one thinks, not much else in
    some ways. After all, nothing is neither good, nor bad, except thinking
    it as such that makes it so (to a certain degree).

  3. Liaquath Mirza says:

    Worst disservice that can be done to people with handicap is to come up with euphemisms for addressing them which I personally feel is not just insulting but outright cruelty. By coining these words such as “differently abled” in place of the disabled , visually impaired for the plan and simple blind in the hope of softening the blow dealt by quirk of nature and feeling smug with satisfaction without taking concrete steps to ease their hardship according to me is the worst form of cruelty . The latest one of such a cruel joke in Indian context is the divine sounding “divyang” meaning one bestowed with divine parts. The genius who came up with this pious cruelty should explain how absence or impairment of bodily parts can equate to being blessed with divine limbs. Your empty high sounding euphemisms and duplicitous way of addressing the disabled will do nothing to allievate their situation or improve their lives. What is needed is plain simple action and not the intellectual dishonesty of coining hollow euphemisms.

  4. Liaquath Mirza says:

    And Seshu please remember that there is a friend who values you for who you are for your wisdom for your intellect and for your acute sense of fairness . Most importantly for having a heart that beats and bleeds for humanity.