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Don't Waste Your Pity On Me! - My Take by Dee Nakhro

March 4, 2017

I was recently asked to be an ambassador for the rights of voters with disabilities in Nagaland. I attended my first event as an 'icon', as the ambassadors are called, where I got a few minutes to say my piece.

While introducing me and another ambassador, this is what an official said - "One state icon is normal and the other is". He trailed off mumbling some unclear words. He appeared to have caught himself before he actually uttered the word, but it was clear what he was saying - one is 'normal' while the other is 'abnormal'.

I was not shocked because this is the kind of mindset that we are still living with - I have a disability, I am in a wheelchair, I am different and therefore I am 'abnormal'.

Even in this day and age, the dominant prevailing attitude in Naga society is that individuals with disabilities are not 'normal', and are not capable of participating in or contributing to society. They are perceived as deserving only of one's pity and charity.

Whenever I meet anyone, more often than not I am told things like - "Oh so sad, you must be really suffering", "You poor thing", or "What a struggle it must be for you". Just because my journey is different, I am considered an object of pity. I know that most people mean well, but it does not make it less annoying to constantly hear people sympathizing with your so-called sad situation.

So, let me put it straight - I am not living in a constant state of suffering. I have my ups and downs health-wise and mood-wise like 'normal' people.

That's it, nothing more, nothing less. Yes, there are some things that 'normal' people do that I cannot, but I have learned to do them differently and have overcome them quite well.

The challenges have made me a stronger and smarter person since I had to figure out how to get around them. You should be so lucky!

I feel great to be alive. I am happy and I love my 'abnormal' life. So, don't waste your pity on me! About the Writer

Diethono Dee Nakhro heads Connect Ability Network, an organization that works for the rights of PwD in Nagaland. She is a winner of the Lemon tree Helen Keller award which is given to PwD who are role models.

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