By Jisna Saji:
I cannot even begin to understand a person who refuses or shows hatred towards someone, just because of their identity. It is unbelievable just how many people are rejected because they are different, and how easily it occurs right under our nose. It is heartbreaking and atrocious. So what if they’re different? Why should anyone’s way of life, appearance, incapacities or beliefs be an irritation or offence to someone? To their business? To their own identity? So many people find it difficult to get themselves recruited or into a desired career path due to discrimination against certain differences that are in most cases, unrelated to the actual task at hand. So many people are reluctant or even petrified of going out in public, in fear of being shamed for who they are. So many people choose to hide themselves, not having the confidence to venture out into the world of so many possibilities to which they are figuratively blind to. So many people have lost relationships that were once in bloom, or could have bloomed, whether that be with family, relatives, friends, or peers – all because of a difference.
I was frequently bullied during primary and high school for being an Indian. For having long hair. For “smelling like curry”. For eating “curry”. All I ever did was exist. I didn’t pick fights, I didn’t provoke anyone. I was just being me; being different. I even remember a particular encounter I had during second grade: seeing a mother eyeing me with revulsion on her face, as if I were some grotesque monster. She told her daughter to “play with someone else”, because I apparently had “skin diseases”, as she justified to her daughter. Leaping to nowadays, I was rejected a job opportunity because I am a diabetic. I was rejected a job opportunity because I didn’t “look fit enough”.
I love that there is a bright side. This is just one of many. I see people with disabilities at university – these people choose to pursue a future. Despite a hindrance in their abilities, I strongly see them as capable of many things, great and small. Every time I encounter such amazing people in my classes, I have the urge to cheer for them, but I do so in silence by offering my generosity, understanding and amicability. These are beautiful people both inside and out; a mere difference doesn’t change the fact that they are humans.
Generally speaking, without different people, this world would be a very dull place. In a sense, we are all like different paints – we shine in our own way; on different wavelengths – on a canvas that forms the ultimate masterpiece that is humankind.
IMAGE: Franck Genten