How to overcome a handicap-Dad's way!

He would read our faces and study our expressions.
How to overcome a handicap-Dad's way!

Dad was a passionate teacher. He taught with love. He would also passionately listen to radio, watch television, listen to the political commentaries, and in fact rush to listen to the speeches  of political and religious leaders. Unfortunately he lost the power to hear in his early forties. His hearing loss was absolute. We tried the best places for his treatment, but to no avail.

For Dad the world changed. However, Dad took what befell him as the wish of Allah. His handicap did not shatter him, did not demoralise him or did not weaken him. He taught again with the same passion, but changed his strategy. To make the two way interaction possible with his handicap at school - he sought the help of ‘Blackboard’ or ‘Mashik’ more often.

At home he taught us focusing  on our lip movements and our facial expressions besides relying  on notebook and pen. The lessons were never monologues but were always interactive in which we kids participated actively. His lessons became sweeter and smarter with time- most of us retain that aftertaste of his lessons even today.

The prized Philips radio at home that he would cling to in the evenings became useless. He would love to listen to BBC Urdu - sudden disconnection from it was a little difficult.

He was an avid reader too, but as the handicap set in, he increased his reading material manifold. He added three more newspapers to his routine reading. A weekly English magazine was added to a monthly magazine.

He read all the columns on regional, national and international politics in all the newspapers  including the health columns. In the era of booming television news channels, he would watch the ‘live coverage’ of all the major events and pay attention to each headline on the TV screen. He kept himself updated with technology and scientific knowledge.

Dad would always carry a pen and a small diary in his pocket. Anyone seeking to engage in a discussion with him was encouraged to put his thoughts in writing, and Dad willingly delved into the topic extensively and comprehensively, be it a matter of politics, society, or history.. Whenever we used to write something for him he would correct its grammar in a joyful mood, never giving the feeling that he was making fun of our mistake. He would read our faces  and study our expressions.

He was the first one to know if we wore a tense look. We  always would seek opinion about various problems confronting us and he would enrich us with his opinion. He was a moving encyclopaedia who would scatter the pearls of wisdom anywhere he went.

He would support his opinion with facts and enrich it with quotes, couplets or sayings of Kashmiri,  Urdu or Persian poets and mystics. An Oxford Dictionary and a lugat e Feroz would always be his companions.

Dad was one of the wisest in his clan. He always behaved as a responsible elder  who would come forward to settle family issues, community issues or issues related to better vision and mission for the clan and the community. He always spoke for the weak and was always on the side of the truth- confronting any power opposed to truth.

He taught children of neighborhood helping many with their school projects and college assignments.He would never say a ‘No’ to requests of the people in neighborhood  for writing newspaper rebuttals, obituries or applications to higher authorities.

Every document seen, corrected and approved by Dad would be deemed foolproof! At Makhdoom Sahib as the member of Intizamia committee, he would ensure that all people in power are apprised of the problems and would ensure that the problems are sorted out.

Dad would involve  himself in fruitful hobbies. He nurtured a beautiful garden and would whole-heartedly take care of it. He took on tasks such as lawn maintenance, weeding, and tending to the flowers and trees, including those bearing hanging fruits.

It was satisfying to watch him decorate a piece of paradise with his keen eyes and caring hands. He did what was dear to him, never caring what people would say. Besides his lawns , he would ensure that the neighborhood too was clean. He would never mind using a broom himself for its cleaning if the situation demanded so.

Dad wrote in a beautiful handwriting. Besides reading, he would practice calligraphy. He would copy Persian couplets from Rumi’s Mathnavi  and write them in his diary with an intention to memorise them.  He did the same for many  ‘Naats’ and  ‘Manqabats’ and  would recite and rehearse them with closed eyes, immersing himself in their content. He had an envious memory and I feel it has to do much with his ability to absorb more. Thanks to our father's dedication, we can even now recall the majority of Kashmiri and Urdu Naats by heart.

Dad was aware that he had a major handicap, but that did not isolate him, depress him or make him an outcast. He continued to learn, to acquire more knowledge and his quest to learn never dwindled. He never cursed his luck, was never ungrateful to the Lord or His people and always explored new ways of being fruitfully engaged. He never harboured resentment towards his circumstances, remained ever thankful to the Divine and those who supported him. He consistently sought fresh avenues for productive involvement in all the matters that concern society. He would mingle with all without any personality issues.

We are nowadays in an era where ‘dementia’ and ‘hearing difficulties’ have assumed epidemic proportions, especially in elderly. These elders because of hearing difficulty are isolated and aloof. Dad’s story is uplifting for anyone who cares to make his life fruitful in spite of the physical limitation.

May you rest in peace - dear father.

Dr Rumana Makhdoomi, MD (Path),  Professor, Dept of Pathology SKIMS, Srinagar, J&K

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