Seven questions about disability we’ve actually been asked. No, really.

Against a pink background, the left panel says 'Expectation' under which a young person with a solitary tear drop says 'Here I am to validate all your stereotypes' while on the right, under 'Reality' the same young person is slightly smiling, and saying 'This conversation was over before it even began'

They don’t call silence golden for nothing.

Meeting a disabled person can be confusing. You might have a hundred questions, and not know whether it is appropriate to ask them or not. In general, I would suggest that you play it by ear. The best option is usually not to act on any sympathetic instincts you may have. They don’t call silence golden for nothing.

As much as I wish people would follow the ‘silence is golden’ philosophy more often, here are some funny – but very real – questions that other amputees and I have been asked, along with the answers the other side expected versus what they actually got. Enjoy!

Question: Did it hurt when it happened?

Expected Answer: Yes, I cried for days. Even now, when I touch my scars, the pain from that day comes back in a rush and I wonder what I ever did to deserve the kind of pain and trauma I went through. HAI BHAGWAAN!

Actual Answer: Not much, kind of like a pinprick, actually. It’s not like my leg was crushed beyond repair or anything. Or that it had to be sawed off and stitched up afterwards. Leave alone having muscle atrophy from the recovery period and then relearning how to walk with an artificial limb. Pain? Whatchu saying!

Question: What disability does your boyfriend / husband / significant other have?  

Expected Answer: Why, exactly the same as mine!

Actual Answer: While I’m all for matching-matching clothes, voices, and menu choices, I didn’t know that to be the perfect couple you had to have matching-matching disabilities as well. Whether or not my partner has disabilities (and further details about them, if any) is absolutely none of your business.

Question: How many kilometres have you walked since your amputation?

Expected Answer: Thirteen and a half. Over a period of four years.

Actual Answer: While I understand that you see me much in the same way you’d see a second-hand car, my mileage pre- and post-amputation is not something that’s hardwired into a dashboard on my chest. Speaking of which, stop looking at my chest. Seriously.

Question: You have such a beautiful face! Why did it have to happen to you?

Expected Answer: I don’t know. *wipes off solitary tear from cheek* But I have to be strong. And people like you always help me do that. Thank you, thank you so much.

Actual Answer: Err… Not sure what the connection with my looks and my amputation is. Are you saying it would be totally okay to have happened to me if I didn’t meet your arbitrary standards of beauty?

Question: Does your fiancé know you’re an amputee?

Expected Answer: No, who would agree to marry me if they knew?! I’ll only show it to him on our suhaag raat so that it’s too late for him to get out of this! Muahahaha!

Actual Answer: While it’s fairly common for people to pretend that their foot has a rubber covering, that they enjoy walking with a slight limp, and that tens of thousands of rupees magically get debited from their accounts annually, I’m fairly old school. I’ve ACTUALLY TOLD HIM about it! *cue gasps of horror*

Question: How come you only lost one limb in the accident?

Expected Answer: Good luck, I suppose, that only one had to be amputated and the others are still hale and hearty.

Actual Answer(s): My doctor wanted to take two, but I bargained with him and we settled on one / I saw it coming and used my ninja skills to get the other three limbs out of the way / I prayed really hard post my accident that I wouldn’t lose more limbs and God (kinda) answered my prayers.

Question: You’ll have to take that off before entering the temple.

Expected Answer: Hai Bhagwaan!

Actual Answer: Hai Bhagwaan!

Many thanks to Sneha, Saritha, Manasi, Bhavika, Hema, Geetha, and Jyothi who contributed questions they’d actually been asked.


Featured image credit: Upasana Agarwal