You look at the clowns in the circus and laugh at their rib-tickling comic acts. But, it is really sad that very few of us bother to look at the darker side of their lives; a life beyond the smile and merriment they showcase on stage. We call them dwarfs, midgets, or small people. They are even disguised as jokes in public even though they are not associated with that profession. It is really heart wrenching for them to withstand the humiliation they face everywhere. They are biologically different because their chromosomes are differently arranged. They did not choose to live as dwarfs and it is not a crime to be physically different from others.
Dwarf people are as talented as any other human being on this earth, but because of their height, they have to compromise with a majority of the things. They are forced to work as clowns and servants and are ill-treated by many. While travelling through public transport, they are pushed and ignored as if their presence is worthless. All they do is face ordeals and even visiting places is no less than a struggle for them. Prospective employers look at them and deem them useless. They are humiliated because they cannot fetch things located at a height; neither can they sit on normal chairs. They can’t even use the public urinals because of their short stature of their bodies. They have accepted the life as it is.
Nobody is hearing them, and nobody is making even a small effort to help them get rid of this partiality. We pretend to be blind when it comes to the day to day needs of dwarfs. The door handles, public urinals, chairs, and tables are not dwarf friendly in our country. The public transport system has facilities for differently-abled people but not for dwarfs. Why? The life of the people falling under the so called ‘distinctly disabled community’ is like a vicious circle. Because of facing discrimination over a long period of time, they are deprived of the basic education as well as job opportunities. And perhaps, there is no choice left for them other than taking up a low-paying job. People make a mockery of them without any hesitation and they are stereotyped in several spheres and this has to be corrected.
If we try to give social and political equality to the dwarf population, it will become easier to cope up with the struggles of their life. But unfortunately, they are treated like aliens and don’t have reliable friends to talk to. As responsible citizens of India, we are failing to do this small act of kindness. Even when they are sitting quietly in a corner, minding their own business, people make fun of them in the most diabolical manner. After doing enough research about the life of dwarfs in India, I found something that touched my heart. I felt relieved when I came to know about a person named Pabitra Rabha who is exclusively creating a society for people belonging to this unheard community.
Pabitra Rabha has preserved his land in Assam to set up a village where dwarfs can live their life with dignity and comfort. They will have their own house which will be compatible to their needs; neither too big handle nor too small – just perfect for them. This exclusive village will have centres for professional training and skill development, where dwarfs can communicate with each other and perform various activities. Pabitra Rabha has found approximately 70 such people who were rescued and brought to Assam. Many of them refused to give up their daily wage, whereas many of them agreed because they wanted to have an uncomplicated life.
Rabha also runs a theatre group which trains the dwarfs and allows them to perform street plays to spread awareness amongst other people in society. The dwarfs are able to communicate their angst and helplessness with audience through their acts. Rabha has a workshop for theatre named Dapon, and in 2008 he got the idea to include the dwarfs into his team. He believes that these people can do everything like normal people but they need moral support from society. Unfortunately, dwarf population falls under the ignored section of society and they are stigmatized because of their physical appearance.
Now, with the help of Pabitra Rabha, they have regained the confidence to live their life in a positive manner. Initially, when these people were brought to Assam, people stared at them like antique pieces. But now they look up to these little talented theatre artists with new found respect. We salute Pabitra Rabha’s efforts and when we look at the smile on the face of dwarfs, we can certainly conclude that Dapon has brought a huge positive change in their lives. I don’t know if this article of mine will leave a huge impact on society, but I want people to be kind with every dwarf they come across here after.
I request each one of my readers to show equal respect to these people as they do for others. We cannot completely eradicate the problems for them, but we can stop others from humiliating them. Thus, before you laugh or make fun of dwarfs, I want you to remember that they are also humans with heart and emotions. Despite of having biological inferiority, they are fighting the hurdles and moving ahead. We must join our hands and come forward to take small efforts for the betterment of dwarf population and also support them to fight for their right.