Saturday, August 08, 2009

WEEKEND VIEW: Disabled Need To Crank Up The Decibel To Get Heard

I received an interesting email last week from a new friend I made recently. His name is Daniel Ahmad Sharani who lives in Petaling Jaya.

He writes:

“People often ask me if I was born a quadriplegic. The answer to that question is no,” Daniel says, and went on to explain a little bit about his background.

“I was a healthy young boy who grew up just like any other ‘normal’ kid in the neighbourhood.

“‘Normal’, referring to going through phases of life in a conventional manner,” he says.

Daniel points out that he managed to complete his education, both primary and secondary as an average student academically.

“That didn’t come as a surprise because I wasn’t just healthy but also an energetic kid who participated in numerous recreational activities even when books should be the order of the day.”

Daniel was heavily involved in sports, especially football with the neighbourhood kids every evening, and even enjoyed some matches on a much higher level into his teenage years.

“And girls, they simply dig guys in football kit.

“Though I was no Romario, I had my fair share in the dating game too. Puppy love or not it was part of the normal phase many teenagers eventually get to taste.

“I enjoyed almost everything I did that at one point it actually crossed my thought that life can only get better once I was done with school and all the exam papers.”

However, Daniel had no idea as to how his life would suddenly change.

“My vigorous lifestyle rudely came to a halt, hardly a month before my 18th birthday.

“I recall everything vividly,” he says.

“That fateful day kicked off perfectly. Together with my best friend who had just purchased a brand new bike, we spent quite a bit at the nearby arcade we regularly frequented.

“Both of us were in our typical jovial mood while shooting some balls before proceeded to a different location to meet up with other friends.

“That’s when it happened. Due to reckless driving, a lady knocked both of us (I was riding pillion) off my friend’s new machine.

“To cut it to the chase, the tragedy took my friend’s life and tragically changed my life forever.”

Daniel’s spine was injured, leaving him paralysed for life. And there was nothing much that medical science could do about it.

“Not quite the news that any almost 18-year old with a cute, ponytailed girlfriend to show off would have wanted or expected to happen in their lives,” says Daniel.

It was only after he was discharged when reality started to set in for the teenager.

“It was a tremendous painful reality,” recalls Daniel. “Never in my entire life had I felt so dejected.

“Once I used to think that life was full of promises within my reach, but now all I could do was to concentrate my thoughts on how to struggle just so that I could keep alive.”

The accident kept Daniel down and depressed most of the time. Instead of tagging with his buddies like he used to, most of his time was spent at home.

In such a state, Daniel started entertaining thoughts of death as a way out of his problem.

The depression even started to affect his family members. Friends who used to laugh with him once soon stopped coming.

But it was Daniel’s family who ultimately helped him pull through in life.

“I am thankful that my family stood by me all the way and were there for me as a much-needed morale-booster.

“I’d have ‘kicked’ the bucket by now if it had not been for the great support from their part.

“Looking back now, I wouldn’t trade their love and support for anything, not even for a chance to walk again. Their role was vital in uplifting my spirit and leading me to bounce back to glory.”

Daniel says that figuratively, getting back onto one’s two feet again wasn’t an easy task.

Especially when life in a wheelchair can draw unnecessary stares from the public as if one were an outcast or something.

“Fortunately, people don’t stare at you as if you are a freak-show as much as they used to in the past.

“But I’ve learnt that it’s all about our mental strength before you start everything else.

“Once that area is beefed up, you’re game to challenge yourself to a bigger obstacle, like the outside world that can be mean to people with limited physical mobility.

“Generally, rationale-minded people are willing to ‘wheel’ with us to make the living environment friendly to all. But it all comes down to upholding our rights (that many in the community are not aware of such existence) and stand up for it.

“It’s us in the disabled community that needs to get the ball rolling.

“It may still be a long way to go but without common voices sharing the common goal, it’ll take a longer time before anyone can finally hear us.

“We need to crank the decibel a few notches up by more voices in order for the authorities to notice our presence and needs,” concludes Daniel.

The End

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