I Never Saw Your Handicap

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A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” – Steve Maraboli.

It’s always the simple stories, occurring in ordinary settings, which hold the power to move us deeply, isn’t it? We find wisdom in unexpected places, between mundane conversations, and sometimes, through people who silently walk into our lives, leaving footprints that stay forever.

Let’s stroll down a memory lane, into a story about a young lad who stepped into an IT interview with visible nervousness in his eyes, and an even more visible handicap – polio, impacting his leg. Yet, within him, there existed an invisible shield of honesty, a spark of loyalty, and an unspoken promise of hard work, which lit up subtly through his demeanor.

In a world that often tried to box him into labels and limitations, this boy found himself navigating through short-term jobs and stereotypical perceptions. His past encounters with employers were often laced with a sympathetic gaze, viewing him through the lens of his physical condition, eventually leading to a series of let-gos. But this story takes a gentle turn when he found himself face-to-face with a different kind of employer, one who saw beyond the physical. When the decision was made to hire him, it was never about seeing through sympathetic eyes, but rather through a lens that saw potential over predicament, abilities over inabilities. Work was never meant to be a stroll in the park – it was hard, sometimes even a bit too hard. There were walks, there were climbs, and there were physical demands. Yet, there was a silent whisper of unwavering belief that echoed, “You are normal”

After a particularly strenuous day that culminated in a fall, a limping return, and a bursting dam of pent-up frustrations, the boy confronted his employer. The questions he asked were valid, filled with genuine pain and angst, “Why push me so much, can’t you see I am handicapped?

Here, the story embraces its pivotal moment. The answers to his outburst were not what he anticipated – they were gentle, yet firm, kind, yet unyielding.

Do I not treat everyone here the same? And if they can work in this manner, why can’t you?

The room held its breath in a poignant pause, as the underlying message soaked through – I never saw your handicap]. It was never about ignoring the struggle, but rather about refusing to let a physical condition become a mental block.

Fast forward to a year, a meeting room enveloped in heartfelt gratitude and a whisper of farewell as the boy, now more confident, stepped ahead into a brighter future, but not before leaving behind words that acknowledged the unspoken power of not succumbing to sympathizing glances. He said, you never treated me as a Handicapped. To which the employer said “ You never were handicapped, why let a deformity, let you down?” His Eyes lit, with a gleamor of a bright future. He left that day, for travels stronger than ever before.

Why share this story with you today? It’s a gentle reminder for all of us – “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller.

When we cushion individuals, especially those with challenges, with too much sympathy, we inadvertently become a barrier in their journey towards discovering their limitless potential. Let’s choose to be the wind beneath their wings instead of the weight in their flight. Let’s decide to walk with them, shoulder to shoulder, not with pity, but with an unwavering belief that they too, like all of us, can ascend towards their dreams. Let’s allow them to paint their canvas with strokes of courage, resilience, and determination.

Because every individual, regardless of their circumstances, has the right to not just exist, but to live, grow, and bloom in the vibrant tapestry of life. Let’s carry this thought with us, enveloping our interactions and perceptions with warmth, genuine support, and an unyielding belief in the inherent potential that resides in every soul we encounter on our journey. Hence, when you cross paths with someone battling their struggles, choose to see their capabilities, not their conditions. Your unwavering belief might just become the gentle nudge they need to unfold their wings and soar high into the boundless sky of possibilities.

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