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Encounter

One should not behave like that

Nighat Jabeen

Except his family no one knows about it. He is scared of social rejection but he won’t admit it.

“What is the need to tell anyone? I take medicine properly and it will be cured. No one will come to know about it,” he says.

Deep in his heart is a hidden fear. The fear of possible change in attitudes towards him. “I am not hiding it. But no one ever asked me about it. So why should I tell them,” he explains as I go on to ask more questions.

What if someone sees your patches?

People are not scared of patches. Every patch is not leprosy. They are scared of deformities.

Are you scared of it?

I am not scared but most people in our society keep distance from such categories.

By category, do you mean that you have turned into a category apart from normal human beings?

No I don’t think so but most of the people in our society believe that and maintain distance on such basis.

Twenty seven years of life. Youth at its zenith. At an age when people aspire to turn dreams into reality Bagwan Das was detected a leprosy patient.

“Infect patches were present on my arm for last two years. But I took it lightly. I hadn’t any idea I am suffering from leprosy.”

Two years later the patches got multiplied along with nerve involvement.

“I began to feel tingling when someone touched my arm. I went to health centre for checkup and they detected leprosy.”

“I am struggling (looking) for a government job.”

Bagwan Das is in the second year of his graduation. Besides, being a farmer he also works as a school teacher in a local school. Being optimistic his dreams are not over shadowed.

“My perception of government job is a better life. Government employees have better life than others. I want to shift my family to the city. The moment I get a good source of income there I will move.”

He lives with his parents Babuji and Omvati, his wife Gita and his children Vishal and Rashi. He wants to shift his family to the city where he thinks he can give a better life to his family.

“City life is better than village life. I want to give my children better life and atmosphere.”

Why do you think you are not able to give there here?

I cannot change the whole society of my village. Neither can I confine my children to home. In city I don’t need to confine them. The atmosphere is better than that of a village.

There is a strong notion that if you want to realise someone’s pain, put your feet in that person’s shoes. But Bagwan Das proved this wrong. He belongs to that part of the society of which he himself is scared. He gave shocking answers to some of my queries.

Suppose, instead of you, it is your friend who is a leprosy patient. Your children are used to playing with him. How will you react?

I will keep them away from my friend.

Why? You know he is taking medicines and it won’t infect your children? Yes, I know, but why take risk. It is better to be away from dirt.

Do you keep yourself away from your children?

No, how can I. After all they are my children. How much can I keep myself away from them? Then I have to leave my family completely.

Do you feel any cha nge in attitude for you in your family?

No I never felt that. They behave as they earlier used to. One of my late uncles was a leprosy patient. We never used to avoid him.

What if your friend will keep his children away from you because of your disease? I will be hurt, badly.

He was bold and honest in his answers. Despite knowing that his answers won’t sound sweet to our ears, he revealed truth least caring whether it was sweet or bitter.

You are a leprosy patient who took medicine properly and got cured. You lived with your family and they were not infected with your disease. Now if your friend is a leprosy patient tomorrow and he lives your children very much, he likes to play with them, would you still keep your children away?

One should not behave like that.

What will you do?

One should not behave like that.

I know one should not but the question is what will you do?

One should not behave like that. I know I too was a leprosy patient. My children were not infected. Being a family member I was more in contact with them than my friends will be. I will try to behave normally.

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Click here to read this story. For reproduction rights contact Kashmir Newz Desk

Click here to read this story. For reproduction rights contact Kashmir Newz Desk

Click here to read this story. For reproduction rights contact Kashmir Newz Desk

Click here to read this story. For reproduction rights contact Kashmir Newz Desk

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