Sunday, January 1, 2012

First day at school

"It was my first day at Xavier's, and I did not know how others were going to react to my disability. I entered the classroom. There was a stunned silence. The silence was interrupted by the irritating, incessant noise of the motor of my electric wheelchair. There were whispers and unsure shuffles. The professor himself looked most scared and apprehensive.

They must have wondered who this heap of undulating mass in an electric wheelchair was. Has she entered the wrong class? I parked myself in the front row. The class began. At least the entrance was over with.

'Your names please', said the professor, turning to the person next to me.

'Malini Chib', I said my name, which I know sounded completely garbled to all around me. No one understood. The professor looked perplexed. He asked again. I spoke again. He thought I had not understood the question. He was irritated, so were 88 other students. I tried spelling my name. He did not get me. I began to panic. I tried again. My speech was getting worse and worse. He looked away impatiently, He had not understood. I heard a cry from a student from behind. 'She said "Malini"'. Eureka! She had understood at last. I had held up the class for 15 minutes. The professor smiled reluctantly but I did not care. At least I had overcome the first hurdle. Now, 88 of my clasmates knew my name. They also knew I had a speech problem. Although it was awful to have all those piercing eyes staring at me, I was happier than before I came in. Now I had some identity. I was not just a lump of flesh on a wheelchair."

- Malini Chib, "One Little Finger"

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