I read a most heart shattering story recently where a 19-year old boy, Parys, was bullied to the point of committing suicide as a result of the physical state of his mother. His mother, Miss Laper, was born cripple and without arms, and so his classmates made it their lifelong ambition to rub his mom’s physical disability on his nose till they eventually snuffed life out of him.
Some stories that you would read and they render you paralysed long moments after you finished reading them, this story was that for me. I was numbed for a long time.
I imagined the ordeal he was subjected to all of his 19 years of existence to the point he decided to take no more of the nonsense from his classmates from hell; the way he must have been terribly taunted and jeered at everywhere he turned to. Cruel lines like ‘hey dude, keep off! This party is not meant for crips and fam’ finished off with a snigger to boot must have been delivered with flourish. Imagine that kind of existence for a young boy!
He most likely did not have anybody to talk to, as he would understandably mark off his mom as someone he could share such concerns with. He might not want to burden her even further and just opted to handle it on his own. He would feel he could handle it all on his own.
At a point, he felt he was losing the battle to keep it all in and together, so he turned to taking hard drugs and substance for respite. His mother started suspecting something was not quite right with him and prodded to know what was going on but he brushed her off with the ubiquitous ‘I’m fine.’ Meanwhile, his emotional turmoil continued unabated.
This boy was totally twisted inside and bound in a web that he did not spin. It is nobody’s fault his mom is a cripple which in itself is no crime! If only those classmates from hell understood that a stark difference and sharp departure from normal is still normal and part of the whole life package, they would only give it the flick of time that what does not fit into the general definition of normal takes, and keep it moving.
They would have devoted the energy they used in messing Parys up mentally and emotionally on their own lives. They would have been less obnoxious and he would most likely still be alive today.
This brings me to the next bit of this write. The Nigerian society is filled with all manner of programmes and activities geared towards providing palliatives that will make life easier for physically disabled people. From our religious bodies, to individual charity, to NGOs to governments; something is always being done to assist the physically challenged.
Some organisations and individuals have even taken it a notch higher by providing emotional support to them such that aside from their physical/financial needs being taken care of, their emotional needs are not neglected. This is most laudable and should continue. We even crave more of this as the world needs as many goodness and kindness she can get to keep grounding evil.
But what about the offspring of the physically challenged people? What about them you may say. Let us look at the case of poor Parys again. He died because he was the son of a cripple. Simple! I’m sure his death certificate will not state that as the cause of death but it is pretty much obvious what it is. If he had been born by a mother sans physical disability, chances are he would still be alive today.
It might look to some of us as leaving the substance to pursue the fringes or shadows, but while the ones with the physical challenges should rightly be the main focus of our care, we can spare their offspring or descendants some love too by looking out for them. At the end of the day, their wellness is crucial to their parent’s wellness.
A lot of them go through emotional turmoil by reason of their connection to the handicapped parent. They go through untold hardship and bullying from cruel people with acutely low emotional quotient whose reason for being alive is so they can torment others. They deride folks with physical challenges for fun and give birth to little fiends who then go to school to torment the offspring of the handicapped.
Their sole achievement in life must be being able bodied which by implication means their lives lack substance; that must be the reason they prey on people with physical difficulty and their family members.
The physically challenged get reprieve from society as they are, on the surface, the worst hit. This is not always the case. The often overlooked Paryses sometimes suffer more emotional and mental damage. They are victims of constant abuse and bullying which they will internalise as the society does not have a buffer for them. If this is left to run its course unaltered, it may lead to depression which can birth suicide.
Even when they are not victims of intense bullying or anything of such, they still need love, care and attention like every other child.
Like we always advocate on this platform; make the love go round. Let us find out how the Paryses of our physically challenged folks are doing too. Let’s be genuinely concerned and not take the “I’m fine’ at face value and walk. If we prod enough and show adequate care, we might discover emotional lumps somewhere that a soothing word and hug from us can melt.
I soothe with my pen. Or keyboard. Or both.