As children growing up, many of us will likely have shared similar experiences of being chastised for bad behaviour, with our parents often pointing to other people and using them as cautionary tales to keep us from committing them again. Oftentimes, the unknowing victims of these cautionary tales are those who suffer from disabilities or hail from marginalised communities, which only further seeks to perpetuate a negative stigma associated to them.
21-year-old amputee shares his recent experience at a supermarket
And in the case of 21-year-old Sofwan, otherwise known as @sofw4n_ on Twitter, he knows first-hand just exactly what it feels like to be on the receiving end of such disparaging remarks. While accompanying his mother to the local supermarket on the 25th of March, Sofwan explained how he had overheard a young girl call for her own mother before pointing at him.
“Look mama, he has a robot leg!”
Sofwan had been wearing a pair of shorts at the time, making his prosthetic limb visible. Shocked by the remark, the woman proceeded to push their trolley away from him before turning to her child and speaking with a raised tone of voice, seemingly to chastise her as opposed to scolding her outright.
“It’s not good to speak of others like that, it’s a sin.” she said.
At the time, all Sofwan could do was to pretend that he had not heard a thing and kept up a ruse by looking as though he were occupied with his phone.
“But in my heart, I was weeping.”
However, as he and his mother were leaving the supermarket and heading for the parking basement, Sofwan ran into the family from before. Apparently, they had wanted to apologise to him for the behaviour of their child, who appeared forlorn with her head hanging low despite not knowing what exactly it was that she had done wrong.
“I was surprised, as throughout the course of my 21 years living, this is the first time that I have experienced parents who willingly wanted to apologise to me over what their child had said.
Usually, they would use my shortcomings as a cautionary tale for their children when they misbehave.” he wrote.
Touched by the family’s considerate apology
Sharing examples of the sort of things that have been said about his disability by other families, Sofwan adds that such comments shouldn’t be made at the expense of other people as they are incredibly insensitive.
“‘Sit quietly, otherwise your leg might get cut off like that young man’s.’, ‘That young man’s leg was cut off because he always went against his parent’s wishes.’.
Such things are incredibly insensitive, and parents should know better than to make such a mistake. My heart breaks every time I hear the same thing over and over again,”
Touched by how considerate the family was, Sofwan adds that in turn, he hopes he would grow to have just as much consideration for the shortcomings of others as the young child’s parents did.
Spina Bifida led to him losing his right leg in 2019
In speaking with Wau Post, Sofwan explained that he suffers from Spina Bifida, which has caused his right leg to function improperly and begin losing senses. His condition also meant that Sofwan could potentially injure his right leg without even realising it, causing wounds to fester due to a lack of pain receptors. This has caused difficulty for a wound that he had sustained for over 11 years to heal properly, which eventually necessitated a below-the-knee amputation in 2019. He received his prosthetic leg in 2021.
Recounting the incident, the young man, who is also a member of the Malaysia Amputee Football Association (MAFA), said that he was overjoyed to know that there are still parents who are willing to teach their children to be more understanding of people who suffer from disabilities, and hopes that more will understand that disabilities are both normal and a gift from the God Almighty.