In India people typically believe that if you are a person with a disability, it is related toyour Karma. But no. It’s just a partof the human condition, and totally normal. Yet, society does not see it that way.
I, Jolly Mohan, all of 32 years, and a paraplegic (which means my lower body does not function at all), understand this attitude all too well. I was born without a disability, in Lucknow. But at the age of three I started falling ill, and due to the doctor’scarelessness, I lost all feeling in my lower body.
I had no clue what was happening to me as I was too young to understand. But as Igrew up, I realised I was different from other children. Fortunately my parents tried tobring me up as “normally” as my sister who had no disability, and this attitude hasshaped the woman I am today. Yet, there were many who tried to convince my parentsthat I was a “useless” child, with no future. To this my father would respond: Only timewould prove who I am, and what I am capable of. Imagine a small child listening to suchstatements and the kind of effect it can have on one’s confidence and state of mind.
Because of this, I have always had a war going on between my mind and heart - a warabout how to prove how capable I am.As I grew up, I finished college and started working. Yet despite my education and thefact that I work at MNCs, nid=73889the mentality of people is such that they feel embarrassed tohave coffee or lunch with a person on wheelchair, or even walk alongside me. Over theyears though, I have become so thick-skinned that such attitudes don’t affect me. Yes, Ifeel momentarily hurt. But they cannot hold me back.
Another issue that has impacted my career and my livelihood is the inability of even thebest workplaces to respect a basic bodily need - access to a clean, accessiblewashroom. To help change mindsets, I penned this article, recently because I wantedthe world to know what it is like to be a healthy, young adult who still needs to wearadult diapers because we don’t make accessible bathrooms in this country. ThoughMNC offices have them, these are often used as storage rooms, or maintained shabbily,leading to health problems. It was not easy writing about such intimate details.
However, I believe it was the right thing to do. To my shock and surprise, my story wasread over 200,000 times. The best part is that my office took notice and made surethings changed. They even installed a dryer to help keep my hands warm! I believe it isthese little things that go a long way in changing things.
A few years back, I got married to a person with a visual impairment, a man, who is afighter like me. I still remember, how during the time of my marriage, people madecomments about this match with a “girl who cannot walk”. Some people talked about mycomplexion (I am dusky) as well as my body and overall looks. I pity such people fortheir narrow-mindedness. I might not be a fair. I might not be able to walk. But I wheelmyself around with attitude. I dress up to the nines, and live my life to the fullest.
I’d like to share that I find society’s stereotypical idea of beauty to be prejudiced, andnon-inclusive, and it is high time we smashed such stereotypes. My question is this -who are we to judge? Today, I can proudly say that I am hot and sexy and I love my body,and myself, just the way I am! Do you?
How to Get Involved
Let's advocate for accessibility, from toilets to workplaces.