Why are men believed to be superheroes, ask a young man with different abilities Samar Chauhan on accepting himself and his disability instead of expecting others to do so.

12, Dec 2022 | Shaba

It is this statement, an assumption, lodges the inequality within men. It is not true that gender inequality exists only between men and women. This is a widely held misconception. My eyes were opened to it by a young man.

He lives in my area. After reading this account, you will, hopefully, believe and accept what he says, too.

CJP’s Grassroots Fellowship Program is a unique initiative aiming to give voice and agency to the young, from among the communities with whom we work closely. These presently include migrant workers, Dalits, Adivasis and forest workers. CJP Fellows report on issues closest to their hearts and home, and are making impactful change every day. We hope to expand this to include far reaching ethnicities, diverse genders, Muslim artisans, sanitation workers and manual scavengers. Our raison d’etre is to dot India’s vast landscape with the committed human rights workers who carry in their hearts Constitutional values, to transform India into what our nation’s founders dreamt it to be. Please Donate Now to increase the band of CJP Grassroot Fellows.

“Hi, I’m Samar Chauhan, prince of my house after my one and only, Father. At my home everything is upside down. I have a sister and an annoying younger brother. They all love me so much. It’s actually an extra too much. Because I am disabled (differently abled).  There is no other reason behind it. It doesn’t make me sad too often; until, that is, someone actually reminds me of what I am. Initially my mother protected me from the outside world . Now my father is working hard to buy some property to safeguard my future. Whenever I think about education, I come back to this point. 

That was when I was in school and in class 5. Walking was so difficult for me. I started to walk so late as compared to others my age(age mates). I broke my leg so much of the time, so many times. I can’t even count. Once, I was walking down the corridor of my school. We had all been dismissed from class. Children, all the children,  were so impatient to go back home. They pulled me to go along with them in a hurry and I fell. I realised what had happened when I felt another bone cracking in my right leg. 

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From that point on, that incident, they, that is my teachers, focused especially on me. As my parents had decided not to stop my studies. I first rested at home for two months. It was bed rest, I couldn’t move. That time soon passed. I wondered, twice, whether I should go to school or not. I was a fearful child. My parents encouraged me to continue. Especially my mother, Shabana. My father knew I’m not worthy of his help, so he never really focused on me. I was guilty and responsible for my disability, but not more than my birth mom.  He always taunted my mom about me, my disability. It was so hard to accept. This rage within him gave me the courage to continue my studies. I started, re-started going to  school. After this gap, I took some time to develop interest in school, studies, companionship, again. During the morning assembly, the  principal announced that there would be competitions in school from the next day, tomorrow. We were told, ask your respective class teachers to explain the rules to you. We came back and sat down in class. Every class was talking about this, these ‘competitions’,  there was so much noise in the entire school. Until our teacher came. She responded to our queries and told us to prepare for a quiz. The topics would be from our science book. It was a science Olympiad. 

The Quiz Questions were written on the blackboard the next morning. It went off smoothly. The questions were easy. This Olympiad was organised to brainstorm, to refresh our minds. “Tomorrow there will be races in the auditorium,” said the class teacher, Meena ma’am. Useless for me. I decided to take leave for one day. I did. My friends shared their experiences. I was listening and nodding my head slowly without paying any attention. I was the only special needs child in the school. Then I suddenly realised that I just can’t continue my studies. Whenever I reach my next goal, just at that point, I crack another bone, exactly at  the same point of time. This time my parents decided to keep me in the house. Forever. I had barely completed my 8th standard studies from the Vivek Modern School. After that I tried to help my father with his dairy business. He has one Chauhan Paneer Shop at the Gamri side of Subhash Mohalla. Everyday we supply paneer from the parking lot of our house. There is a counter where I work regularly to make the paneer and then slice it into pieces. 

I believe it is the best paneer, made from genuine ingredients. We are renowned for this pure paneer in Subhash Mohalla. There is more. Rinku, Raju and Babu Mia are the ones who help us in loading this paneer in our transport vehicles. They also help us to deliver it to the doorstep of our regular customers. I myself, however, cannot do this job. I never ride a bike , cycle or a car. It is not possible for me to be mobile, to go somewhere. I tried once and that experience was bitter: it taught me a lesson not to try again. I was in a queue. I don’t remember where. The people were impatient, they said let us go ahead of you. You are taking so much to walk up the queue. You have to stand behind us, last, at the end. From that day on, I have stayed at home, all the time. Sometimes I walk around the main door of my house, not farther than that. I also avoid social gatherings and weddings of my own close cousins in the village. Which is Bulandshahr. This is how I have coped;  to accept myself, my disability rather than expecting people to accept me.

This report is part of CJP’s Grassroots Fellowship Program, and has been written by Shaba, who is documenting lives, conversations around Delhi’s neighbourhoods.

Meet CJP Grassroots Fellow Shaba

Shaba’s family lived in Garhi Pukhta a small town in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. Soon after her birth, they moved to Delhi to give her a good life. She hails from a conservative clan where a girl’s education is not considered a priority. Shaba, who prefers to only use her first name, says she is lucky to have parents who support her.

She wants to be a teacher and is pursuing a Diploma in Elementary Education and has also passed the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET). Shaba also wants to work to make education accessible to the underprivileged populations, and be part of a system that works towards a welfare state. Her top priority is to make her parents proud.


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