English Column: Disabled or Special?
“Are we disabled or special?”
Me and Afsyakirin
As I was buying some stuffs at Giant Batu Caves, I bumped into a ‘special’ friend of mine. He was entertaining the random people there with his balloon modeling skills.
His name is Afsyakirin, 26, a disabled person like me. We met at Pemulihan Dalam Komuniti (PDK) Gombak Setia last year. Both of us are disabled people. In Malay it’s called ‘OKU’ (Orang Kurang Upaya).
I am legally blind on my left eye. He, on the other hand, suffers a more tragic disability that makes him impaired on his right side (stroke I guess, not sure).
But still, he is happy even when he has to hop his way with his left foot in order to walk.
The reason why I’m posting this, not to brag or show the world that I care for the disabled, but I want to clear the perception of the public towards disabled people.
I approached him today when he was handing over a gift of a balloon shaped as a flower to a sister at a Prudential booth. The sister refused at first. I’m not sure whether what was the reason but after seeing me chatting with Afsyakirin, she accepted the flower balloon.
Maybe because of Afsyakirin’s ‘not normal style’; he hopped his way and the way he stutters whenever he talks. The point is, Afsyakirin’s style is ‘not normal’ compared to a normal-non-disabled person.
I had a chat with him. He still remembered me. He called me ‘Abang’ even though he is older than me by two years. People around me were weird seeing me, the only one talking to him. People around me were weird that I’m the only one brave enough to talk to someone who’s ‘not normal’?
A man in the crowd asked me “Do you know him?” while making a surprised facial expression.
“Yeah. Both of us are disabled” I replied.
Maybe the woman refused to accept the flower at first because of Afsyakirin looks a bit weird or frightening to some, hopping on one foot all the time, and I came there neutralizing the weirdness in her.
I may look more ‘normal’ than him but both of us are still disabled.
Thank God, no women screamed out of fear of Afsyakirin.