My brother is special, and it’s not because of his disability

Published: March 27, 2011
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I remember the excitement in my father’s voice when he told me “You are a big girl now” because I had a baby brother to look after. I felt important and eagerly awaited for him to grow up and play with me.

He was a beautiful baby, to say the very least. I waited for him to start crawling, to become responsive to the love I showered him with. I waited for him to call me “aapi”.

But the days turned into months and months to years. He never crawled, he never responded, he never spoke. My family yearned to hear him speak, to call us by our names, come running to us, have a meal with us on the dinner table and laugh and talk like nothing is wrong.

But something was wrong.

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As the sister of someone who has a disability, it breaks my heart when I see my brother being treated differently because of what he lacks. I cannot lecture the world each time it happens but it does break a little piece of me.

I want to speak up for my brother and for every person with a disability who faces prejudice at the hands of ignorant people who think they are burdens.

It is often siblings of a disabled child who display this ignorance and I blame the parents for letting this bias continue.

Sometimes, people show their contempt more explicitly.

“Oh, I didn’t know you have a son who is like ‘that’.”

What do they mean by “a son like that?”

Why does anyone need to feel sorry about my brother being the way he is?

Harsh words like ‘abnormal’ make little sense in a subjective world.  How can you say with conviction that you and I are perfectly normal? Spare families dealing such with individual the additional emotional trauma, we will be obliged.

At times, disabled children are looked upon as a saza (punishment) for a wrong doing – like karma’s backlash.

Ironically, in a country where our religion and moral values urge us to be kind to people who have disabilities, there are no significant facilities for them.

Perhaps as a society, we are not mature enough to accept differences graciously. Why don’t we see that differences are what makes the world diverse and at times, more beautiful?

The next time I go out with my brother to a public place, I wish fewer heads would turn. I don’t want to see those looks of pity – they only add insult to injury.

In the Holy Quran, Allah tells us about people who have eyes but still cannot see; people who are not deaf but cannot hear.

Can we open our hearts and accept that people like my brother, who are just a little different from the rest of us, are special?

They are not special because they lack something we have – but because they have something we do not.

Mehreen Farhan

Mehreen Farhan

The author is a writer, blogger and a technology enthusiast. She blogs at 'The Pakistani Woman' (thepakistaniwoman.com/) where she aims to bring awareness to women's issues and women empowerment.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.