As part of a series marking 11 years since the atrocities of Mullivaikkal, we share a reflection from the homeland.
The following reflection was transcribed verbatim from an interview conducted by the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research.
I am from Vadduvaakal, Mullivaaikaal. I was a fisherman before the war. I used to do all my work, no matter how much work I have. I lost both my legs during a Kfir attack during the last days of the war. I wanted to die when I knew that I lost my legs. I asked the doctors at the hospital I was being taken care of, to please kill me with an injection; but they helped me recover.
When I came home from the hospital, I spent most of my days in a wheelchair. People were hesitant to talk to me because they thought that if they talk to me, then they have to help me. Even the organizations that were supposedly helping people, didn’t prioritize me as someone who lost both legs. A lot of people have interviewed me, promised me they will help – but no help came to me. There was a point I got tired of sitting around and waiting for someone to help, so I went back to fishing. I tried so hard to change the mentality that I couldn’t work.
I am doing more work now than I did when I had both legs. The determination that I shouldn’t be dependent on anyone and the mentality that my family shouldn’t ask help from anyone, pushes me to work hard on my own. However, I cannot help the fact that people still see me as a disable person.
I didn’t get any help to have a stable job for myself, even when I asked for help from various places. The society has only accepted me now after I came to stable position in my life with my own work and strength. But I am happy that the society accepted me now, even though they didn’t when I was struggling. Feeling isolated and loneliness are extremely dangerous. Even though the acceptance I have now is quite late, I am glad to have it – it makes me stronger.
I cannot do certain work I did when I had my legs. For that kind of work, I am dependent on someone to help me, particularly when I go to fish. There are kind people too and those people try to help me because I am disable. Others avoid me, because they don’t want to be the ones to help.
Only few government offices and banks have the facilities required for disabled persons. In other service providing offices, it is hard to find a place to sit, or get services early, or to use the toilets. Some people say that disable people are given priority and their needs are taken care of. That is not true!
See more reflections on our website www.RememberMay2009.com