Ever wondered if I was born into this world with a booklet of manuals and care. As a newborn, were my parents able to identify if I was Deaf? Was my journey called life smooth sailing or full of potholes?
It has been 25 years since I have been born deaf, and I will continue to live in a world of silence. At one point, I could not explain the hubbub of sounds as they washed over me. I, being Deaf, did not stop me from tackling obstacles that came my way.
My parents looked forward to the day I was born. I was born healthy with five little fingers and toes intact. With no signs of the impending diagnosis that would put my parents into a state of dilemma and worry. I was a crier at night and kept them awake. In short, I was very naughty.
Until one and half years, I did not show any signs of my hearing receding. I was a happy, bubbly kid. I always loved to stand in front of the television and watch the videos go by. My dad always loves to keep up with the news. As usual, I stood in front of the telly. My dad called me and asked me to come behind as I was standing too close to the television.
He noticed I was not responding to his calls. My Dad reduced the volume of the television and called me once again. It alarmed him I was not responding. Over the next few weeks, he did a series of listening activities, dropping plates, calling my name up close, bursting balloons, and calling me from across the room.
I failed each of these tests. I was happy that dad was playing with me. From that day onwards, it was the start of hospital visits and checking my ears and brain. When they received a diagnosis of my profound hearing loss. It was a shock to them as the condition did not exist on either side of my family.
On some days, my parents felt discouraged, and when they were told that I would have difficulties with language and a difficult future. My dad and mom with firm determination looked for ways to teach me and look into treatment. My extended family understood the helplessness of my parents. They assisted my parents in every way to travel to South India for treatment.
At two years old, I attended Bala Vidyalaya, The school, a school for the young deaf students. Might provide me with the support I needed not only academically but also to make my life more accessible. However, it turned out to be a difficult enrollment process as the school had strict policies.
When I secured a place at the school, the dilemma did not settle as my parents had to commit to working with me 24/7. My parent had to adjust to a different lifestyle in an unfamiliar land. My parents had to worry about my sister, who they left behind in the care of my extended relatives.
In 2001, I bid adieu to the school and teachers, friends I made over the schooling years, lovely neighbors who made our stay comfortable. After 5 years of education in India, with brief vacations spent in Sri Lanka. I returned to Sri Lanka to open the next chapters of my book.
I first attended a mainstream school with normal children. I did the exams with no special accommodations and had no problems adjusting to a normal school. Despite going through a hard time, I overcame these obstacles with confidence because the school I studied helped me with my integration into society for a lifetime. With the support of my family members, without them. It would have been impossible for me to have made it to this point without their love and dedication.
There were moments my friends constantly reminded me of my deafness as they pointed to my hearing aids. Trust me, since I have been born, my life has been a roller-coaster. At first, I knew little about my Deafness. I did not let it hinder my education and interaction with my peers. Since children are curious, when they pointed out my hearing aids, I just shrugged it off.
During the period of adolescence, I began noticing myself more, and then the challenges started. I would get angry, depressed, frustrated, confused, and lonely. I would discern the merest details of myself and the environment. At that point, I had low self-esteem and confidence.
My low self-esteem and loss of confidence propped up randomly one day when people started telling me what I can do and telling me I will not go far in education. They immediately judged me just because I was Deaf.
Thus, it gave birth to all the mental health issues I faced and fed into my insecurities. From there onwards, I suffered from Deaf Anxiety. I became socially withdrawn and introverted. It was my deaf anxiety that kept me from opening to people. I want to create awareness not just for the hearing community but also for Deaf/Hard of Hearing parents because it affects the child’s self-esteem for life.
Many people think if a deaf person wears hearing aids or cochlear, they “magically” hear as ordinary people. To get to this point, we have overcome obstacles, gone through injustice and misunderstandings, which a deaf person could relate to. Throughout my interactions with ordinary people, I found out that none of them have come across a Deaf person or have awareness about the deaf community. They did not know how to interact with me, and I had to show them I could communicate just like other children.
As a person living with disabilities (Deaf), I have always come across situations excluded from the activities and misunderstandings. Since then, I have understood that many people with disabilities go through the same thing. These incidents prompted me to publish a blog, Insight of the Deaf where my goal is to spread awareness and sensitize the public on Deafness.
To many, it seems tragic to imagine that someone can never know what a sound like, enjoy music, or hear one’s baby cry. It’s not a tragedy. It’s normal. I think too many people focus on the losses or absence of something. I have lost nothing by being born deaf; I have only gained.
My Deafness has shaped my life for the better. Because of my Deafness, I see the world differently. I am more creative in how I communicate. Being Deaf can be inconvenient sometimes. I wish I could hear someone yell from across the room. Other times, I get annoyed at how people treat me. Inconvenience does not mean that my life is any rich or worth living than a hearing person.
As I go through this journey called life, I have stumbled upon words of wisdom, which I always carry with me to this day. Let me share it with you, as life gives you a chunk of blocks, which becomes an obstacle later on.
At one point, I realized I would have to rise to the occasion and break up the boundaries that chained me to and aim towards the goal. Despite society telling me it is impossible to do it. Today, I am here to tell you it is possible to aim for the stars as long as you set your mind to win.