I encounter numerous challenges because of my disability but I am rarely frustrated, upset or angry. Instead, I have learned to take them in my stride. Sometimes, I am fascinated by…
…how things develop.
More importantly, I take every opportunity to learn from my experiences. I’ve observed that, most times, people tend to blame others for their difficulties. If they stop doing that and start seeing themselves as part of the problem, life would be so much better.
Let me share with you some of what I have learnt.
Every Saturday, I go to Orchard Emerald for my oral communication class at Juliet McCully School of Language and Communications. The building is not handicap-friendly. Therefore, I have to be carried up a flight of stairs. My parents are no longer able to do that without help.
Finding help is usually not a problem for them, as the Malay security guards are happy to be of service. A Malay cleaner who seems to wait for us every week is also ready to assist.
I mention Malay, because it is not uncommon for us to be stopped by an unfriendly Chinese man from parking in the car park of a nearby building. In contrast, his Malay and Indian colleagues, when they are on duty, welcome us knowing this would be more convenient for me.
The amiable supervisor, Uncle Mahmood, touched my heart one day when he said to my parents: “We must do what we can to help all people less fortunate than us.”
Am I disappointed with the Chinese guy? No, it is his prerogative to do what he thinks is right. After all, I bring “problem” to him.
My lesson: Kindness is in the individual. We should not judge people by their colour but by their qualities. What’s more, not everybody is obliged to help us. We have to respect his or her decision even if we feel that it is unkind.
After my oral communication class, my mother usually wheels me to my singing class at Lee Wei Song School of Music. It is an adventure for me crossing roads, weaving against the pedestrian flow and going on a narrow road with cars whizzing past.
The most dangerous part of the journey is the short stretch along Killiney Road, where the Electronic Road Pricing gantry is. We have no choice because the pavement there leads to three large bollards. The posts effectively prevent any wheelchair user from going further. There is also a 24m railing that ensures that section of the pavement is out of bounds to wheelchair users.
To avoid the hassle of having to get off the pavement mid-way, my two-wheeler has to share the road with other vehicles from Somerset Road to Exeter Road. Although it is a smooth “ride” for me, my heart misses a beat every time I see a vehicle approaching.
I am sure the authorities have a reason for putting up the three bollards. But I wish they had found a better way of meeting their needs.
My lesson: Obstacles are there not to stop us but to show us there is another way. Yes, it may be risky but it beats griping. After all, the problem is partly mine; were I not wheelchair-bound, the bollards would not be an issue.
After my singing lesson, my father drives us to Balmoral Plaza for my A-maths class at Novel Learning Centre. He will stop outside just where a handicap sign is prominently displayed on the pillar. There is also a double yellow line along the road. While my mother wheels me to class, my father waits in the car. He drives off as soon as my mother returns.
One day, he received a summons for illegal parking. My parents were indignant. My father appealed to the Traffic Police. Although the appeal was accepted, my parents were still not happy because the letter stated “a traffic offence has been disclosed” and “a warning will be recorded for future reference”.
While I understand how my parents feel, I could not figure out the purpose for the two conflicting signs. They have since decided on a longer route for me to get to class.
My lesson: When there are two conflicting signs, abide by the one put up by the law. If we don’t, we are committing an offence whether we like it or not.
Anyway, it is better to be part of the solution; following the traffic regulations makes our roads safer for all.
(This journal entry was published on 13 June 2006 of TODAY)