Sunday March 17, 2013
Adieu and farewell
Crazy, Sexy, Honestly by IDA NERINA
Here we are, folks, my last offering for this column. I wanted it to be smart and sassy, snappy and funny, short and sweet ... but I guess you’ll just have to settle for me being me instead.
I’VE always been a rather private person but for the past 21 months, I chose to share much of myself with you. The main reason was in the hope that I could make you see through my eyes that we humans are our own biggest disablers.
Our fear of the unknown or of the unfamiliar often stop us from realising our full potential as humans. We skim past people who seem different from us as it puts us in unfamiliar grounds and may cause us to question our own shortcomings. Or not, as the case may be.
I have noticed some positive changes in the disabled loos or parking spots in some of the premises I’ve spoken of. I’d like to think someone somewhere took notes, from someone.
The irrelevant questions still come but I’ve noticed some different sort of reactions from people other than “shock and horror” when I bump into them. And then, I now realise that there are some who, no matter what they say about “understanding” or of seeing one shorter than themselves, do not realise that words used to describe those in my situation make a huge difference.
I’m not talking about using “politically correct” words, for – more often than not – those too are, quite simply put, more offensive and rather incorrect.
Let me explain, and please remember this – using wheels for mobility does NOT make one “wheelchair bound”. If you read me from the beginning, you’d remember I said this very early on when Crazy, Sexy Honestly came about. Wheels are used as a form of mobility.
One gets out of the chair often, probably more often than those of you who are stuck in front of a screen at work all day. Showers are taken in the shower. Sleep is done in bed. Cars are driven from the car seat. Many continue with or do even more than those not in such a position.
But people – the biggest disablers, the biggest culprits in breaking others’ hopes and aspirations – will often see what they want and describe it how they understand it (or lack thereof).
Example: Ras Adiba Radzi, who is on wheels, is a qualified racing driver. She recently had an experience that I feel would describe what I mean and why, when I say I want to disable disability. This is what she told me.
“I went with my son to the Extreme Park at the Golden Palm Tree Bagan Lalang, Sepang – or Gold Coast, as some know it – where they have paintball, go kart with an extra seat in the rear, ATV quad bikes, and so on. When I got there, the staff got us tickets for me to drive the go-kart.
“There was a guy manning the entrance. I gave my ticket and he said, “Err... who is driving?” I said, ‘Me, I am driving my son.’ He said it’s not allowed, because I’m on a wheelchair.
“I said, ‘So? I wouldn’t risk myself and others if I couldn’t drive, I have a valid license and have driven in the Adi Haslam racing team under the K4GP which is a race for abled and disabled in Sepang, organised by the Japanese and we won for Malaysia in Sepang.’ He said I was still not allowed, because I was on a wheelchair.
“He later called ‘the boss’ who told me that go-karting there is only for healthy people.”
So there you go, folks... with just one word, in one fell swoop, and from an assumption of something he obviously does not understand, this man completely disempowered and disabled another human being and probably fractured her spirit.
I think her major concern and hurt was that her five-year old son witnessed his mother being discriminated against and embarrassed in public for “being a lesser being”. They went home without getting the rides. I feel you, Deep. Think about it, folks. Please.
So you see, people are our biggest disablers. And unfortunately most of you are right here in our own home, Malaysia. I never got any return calls about my wanting to go parasailing which I spoke of here six months ago. I was told to go to Taiwan. Being a human being means so much more than simply functioning “normally”.
If you don’t understand something, ask or learn about it. It doesn’t take much to understand your job a little better to enable another human being.
I’ve shared so much of myself with you, and thank You, for the eyes, the lessons, the words, but most of all for the courage in sharing my stories with all of you. Most of us live in such fear all the time – of being judged, of being ostracised, of being disliked... for who we are and how we see things and for speaking our minds.
I say, “Go on, Malaysians, let’s tell our stories. In our own unique way.”
■ Having put it off for far too long, Ida Nerina has finally surrendered to diversifying herself creatively. She continues to be grateful for life’s small mercies. And short people. You can follow her innocuous ramblings on fakebook and other rampant psycho babbling with that blue bird, as she seems to have become a twit with a camera – and deft with her fingers too. Speak to her at email@example.com.