Pradeep was walking on the road, neatly in-shirted and wearing shoes, a flattened hair with oil on the head makes him look more of a Civil services aspirant rather than a Volunteer of Seva Bharathi. This friend and collegue of mine is walking towards the slum nearby in Kachiguda the Sanjay Gandhi nagar near chadarghat. He has a programme there to supervise and has been closely working for a couple of weeks not mattering the time day / night. He knows all the 1500 population of the slum by name so is the case with all of them for pradeep calling him anna. Its the same with a couple of other slums Krishna Nagar and Kamgar Basti. Petty quarrels, family disturbances, depressions, domestic violence all all of them are handled by this one person. Its not just volunteering that pradeep is good at but buddy take note he can recollect any person by his footsteps or a touch no matter if you have met him a couple of years ago. Pradeep reaches the slum and gets greeted “Namaste Anna”, (Hi Brother) responds with a “Namaste Akka or tammi or Anna” (Hi Sister / Brother thats a mark of respect attached to a person even if it is not ur own) and procedes to the near by house at the entrance of the slum. Wishes them takes a sip of coffee. The family works in the Municipal corporation of Hyderabad and they reserve their coffee session with Pradeep whenever he is visiting the slum.
Not that it is anything great or extra-ordinary for a person like Pradip or for me and my other collegues (we all are used to pradeep and treat him normally in my seven years working with Pradeep I hardly helped him fill an application form or taken him to a place that he wanted to visit and its the other way round whenever I wanted to go to some place he woulkd take me. Wondering how thats his ability thats how he is Differently abled). Only that Pradeep lost his Vision by birth. His father a small time tailor in Nizamabad tried all he could travelled as far as Mumbai to get the vision to his son. Pradeep can swim as deep as it is possible, drive a bike ofcourse with little support from Shivakumar another volunteer. Pradeep had a vision to work for people like him sometime later and now he is working with people like him but with less self Esteem than him. He’s driving the motivational for them. Pradeep now works as the Public relations face or the reception incharge at the Nizamabad District Govt area Hospital.
It was holi and we all were drenched in colors after playing holi with the Slum dwellers and a group of friends while returning pradeep took the bike started and wanted shiva to sit behind him while with a direction here and there a LEFT a RIGHT and a slow speedbreaker ahead he was driving smooth when a Traffic police stopped us. Pradeep talked out to him and told him that they were comming from a nearby slum and thats how they missed the Helmet rule. The traffic police couldnt even make out to whom he was talking and all of us were looking normal. It was much later that when we settled we all burst into laughter what would have been the Police officer’s reaction if only he was aware of Pradeep’s differently abled status. I dont mean to highlight the risk and make him a heroe of such things but its a fact that most of treat them with pity, sympathy and other filthy words rather than treating them with respect equality and empathy.
And will quote one more incident from my experiences. I was reading out an article from Hindu that Pfizer foundation has financed a Differentlyabled person (visully) to scale the Mt Everest and was all wowing for him. Pradeep’s reaction was take me to the base of Mt everest and I will take you to the top of Mt Everest. Thats Pradeep for me and Thats Differentlyabled for me.