The wheelchair man

"It's so hot," he said, wiping his face.

I had found a place two seats away from him directly opposite the doctor's cabin. Heat was an icebreaker. 

"Yes," I said, fanning myself with a hand even though the aircondioning was on at full blast. 

"You are waiting for the doctor?" he asked. 

I smiled, "I guess so."

"My legs were crushed under the train," he said. 

I was taken aback. There was a walking stick near him, and I noticed a wheelchair. How does one commiserate with a stranger, a stranger whose condition you have not even paid much attention to? 

He brought out an album and showed me photographs of himself. "I was a big shot once. I was a regular on TV. My name is R."

The name and his face did not register, but I don't watch everything. 

"The accident taught me a lot about life and people." I don't know why he was telling me all this, and it was only five minutes since I was here.  He continued, "My wife ditched me because of what happened to my legs, because I was in coma. I've seen the worst." 

How does one respond verbally 

"Are you Christian?" he asked.

"No," and uncharacteristically I responded with, "Are you?"

"No. I am Maharashtrian. Hindu...You?" 

He was waiting for my reply. Just then, the receptionist called out to me. 

As I got up, I heard him say, "So, you are Muslim."

And I realised that perhaps we are all supposed to carry invisible crutches.  


  1. even in pain and in sordid crisis , the element of identity is ingrained in the hearts and minds of people - aftermath of social polarization

  2. Handicap does not necessarily preclude prejudice.

  3. FV,

    Hindus know this sekulaar sermon by heart. Go convince Muslims that Islam is a crutch and they better get rid of it.

    May Allah be with you.

  4. Rather unfortunate, but I seem to have not conveyed things adequately. This was not about prejudice at all. The gentleman might have asked me about other identity markers, like education, address, or books I read, and reached a conclusion based on some link. These would then be the crutches, too.

    What is obvious here, though, is that the polarisation Rizwan mentions have probably made us conscious of other religious identities.

    F&F, did I say Hinduism is a crutch? I said WE are supposed to have invisible crutches. It can be anything. Glad to know you connect with Allah and can decide where Allah should be and with whom, but you are wasting this connection. And, of course, I think all religion is a crutch, and it may not be a bad thing for those who need something to hold on to. We all need something or someone. Like you need to spell secular differently to identity yourself!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.