Friday, July 1, 2016

The funniest questions I have ever been asked

Although I have been blind for over 26 years now, I have got enough opportunities to interact and socialize with different people in the world. I have realized over the years that the real beauty of the world does not have to be perceived only through eyes. Along the journey of my life, I have come across different people who have helped me see the world in many ways. But over the years, I have also met some innocent individuals who have asked me some of the funniest questions without knowing that I am blind. I have had funny encounters with children as well as adults and I often giggle to myself when I reflect on those experiences. Following are some of the funniest questions I have ever been asked by both innocent children and adults.

Are you the bus driver?

I was having breakfast with my wife in a restaurant just next to the bus terminal in Phuntsholing a couple of years ago. We were on our way to Thimphu and our bus was scheduled to depart at 8:30 a.m. Seated on a nearby table was a small group of soldiers having breakfast like us. They were busy talking and laughing as they ate their food. Suddenly, one of them asked me “Are you the bus driver?” Both I and my wife were taken aback. Perhaps because I was wearing my usual black goggles and that my white cane was folded, they mistook me for a sighted person. They had thought I was the driver of the bus they were to board. When I replied ‘no’ with a smile, they immediately hurried and rushed out to catch their bus. Their bus was scheduled to depart at 8:00 and they were actually relaxing thinking I was their driver. It was really funny to think how could they have mistaken me for a bus driver. My wife still laughs when we talk about it.

Uncle, why are you sleepwalking?

A 4-year-old son of my friend once saw me walking inside the house without my glasses on. Since my eyes appear closed, he might have thought I was still in sleep. So he curiously asked me “Uncle, why are you sleepwalking?” It made everybody burst into laughter. My eyeballs have shrunken inward after being dangerously swollen up for several days while I lost my sight and this is the reason why many children ask me curious questions whenever they see me without glasses.

Do you have a stiff neck?

I was once talking to a kid in my office library and probably because I could not make an eye-contact with him while responding to his questions, he had wondered if I was not able to turn my head easily. So he curiously asked me, “Uncle, do you have a stiff neck?” When I asked him why did he think so, he said I was not facing him while talking to him. That was another funny experience I have had with children.

Is there any car at the back?

I was once travelling with one of my senior colleagues in her car in the town. When she was reversing the car out of the parking lot, she instinctively asked me “Amrith, is there any car at the back?” At first, I didn’t know how to respond to her. I thought she was just joking with me but she was actually serious. Only when I said I was not sure, she realized I was blind. She then laughed uncontrollably for her own stupidity. She told me she often forgets that I am blind.

So these are some of the funniest encounters I have had with different people over the years. Those experiences still live with me alive and I still silently giggle when such memories flash through my mind. It’s really interesting to be part of all those funny and memorable experiences. With all my heart, I respect the curiosity of those children and the innocence of adults in general. I don’t mind being asked any question about my disability. I always take it as an opportunity to help people understand more about me and my disability so that they can better understand the needs and rights of persons with disabilities as a whole.