Saturday, November 21, 2009

Disappearing to appear

Numerous stares, sympathetic faces and uncomfortable postures go along with the disabled person wherever they go. Especially in countries like India, we have a highly judgemental attitude rather than understanding what disabled people feel like. The term which should be used to refer to this is also confusing. Should it be people with disability or disabled people? I feel that the term disability means that ‘we’ have the ability. In contrast, when we use the term disabled, it suggests that the ‘disabled’ have been made that way by us, the ‘abled’. This sounds more correct and defines the truth of how the disabled people are basically in the condition they are because of the so called abled.

Are we all perfect or do we seek to be perfect? Do we need to be perfect? Is perfection a necessary condition that human kind should go through? Obviously for me, being a priest brings me closer to the problem of the disabled people. Why are they like this? Does God allow disability or are the people disabled by the abled? Is it punishment from the higher echelons of justice? But what have these people done? Even my referring to the disabled people in the way I do, suggests a difference between us and them!

What am I going to do? Am I going to tell my congregation that people with disabilities are serving God’s purpose? Or am I going to tell my congregation that part of the problem is us, those who are holding onto this built up conception of perfection and for whom there should be people whom we perceive as imperfect, to maintain our perception of perfect. Thus the existence of the perfect depends on the existence of the imperfect.

Our relationship with God is a funny one. We let God appear when we want to and then allow (force) God to disappear when the use of God has passed. This suggests an appearance and disappearance. This is so taken for granted that it has completely slipped our mind, so much that we may even deny it. But this is one reality that we should bring back into our consciousness. God appears and disappears. God disappears so that we may appear. But we take our appearance for granted and forget that this is what we are encouraged to do as well. We too have to disappear, so that others may appear! We too have to be disabled so that others may be abled!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The journey

There was a deep sense of distractedness in my mind. Each breath of mine was pushed away by the rumblings of a mini quake, the epicentre of which was right next to me, in the train berth occupied by an old man. The train within the train took me by surprise. The spate of train related accidents came to my mind flashing through with the help of a view finder. But never would there have been an accident within, because of a train within a train!

The drive to the station was like a joy ride on a giant wheel in a fair. Everything seemed exactly the same, unless one chose to look with intend. Then faces became clear and with it lives and stories were revealed in a matter of seconds. It was the usual grind: paying the auto driver, walking to the station, passing through the detector, spotting the train platform on the screen, buying water and something to munch and then walking to the train, checking my name on the chart stuck to the train bogey and then placing myself on the booked seat. It was one chain puzzle, neatly put together and played to perfection.

Bodies lay strewn all around. People were shouting, ‘get down, down.’ Just as you thought it was all over, came one more shot and then a volley of shots. How does it feel to lie on your tummy and wonder, ‘what the f*** is going on here?’ and ‘will I get out of here alive?’ How does it feel to be derailed even before one boards the train? So many prayers went up that day to a variety of Gods, all asking for divine intervention and a fortunate ending. Was this the end of the world? The faces of my loved ones came to my mind in a flash, so fast and furious that I felt like a turtle in an F1 racing car.

I got up with a jolt. Where was I? In the train, sleeping safe and sound in my berth, listening to the divine snore next to me. How I wonder, a few moments ago the snore sounded like a quake and now after what seemed a salad of a dream, the snore became a sweet sense of awakening. An awakening of being alive and okay. The sense that everything was back to normalcy.