“2 years ago, when papa died of a heart attack, it fell upon me to provide for Ma and my younger brother. With no time to cry and bills to pay, I started looking for jobs. But I’ve been deaf and mute since birth, so I kept getting rejected. But I persisted like my life depended upon it and finally, I got my first job as a Station Support Associate at Amazon!
I was so nervous on my first day. I’d always been around people who were fluent in sign language, but now, I was in the real world. I couldn’t even lip read because of how quickly everyone spoke. I kept asking myself, ‘Will they accept me…understand me?’
But my colleagues realized I was struggling and immediately adapted. They walked me through my job requirements and helped me find my pace by giving me easy tasks to accomplish. They didn’t know sign language, but they learnt some signs. Every day I wished them ‘Good Morning’, and they’d respond to me in sign language!
I began to love my job and after 4 months when I won the weekly Star Performer award, I finally felt at peace about my future…about Ma and my brother.
But when COVID-19 suddenly hit, that future was uncertain. Mom was frightened at the thought of me leaving the house; let alone going to work everyday. I was worried, but I had to earn and also had a responsibility at work; I had to find a way– so, instead of panicking, I focused on what best I could do.
I watched safety tutorials and my supervisor arranged a bus for us because we’re essential workers. At work, my colleague Omkar used sign language to train me on sanitization, PPE and thermal screening. Mom video called 4-5 times a day and to calm her down I’d tell her what I told myself, ‘We can’t let the virus stop us from living.’
I won’t lie– the streets are lonely and although I’m deaf, the silence is louder than ever. But right now, my job is a necessity–not just for me but for all those who need essentials to survive. So, I come to work, every single day.
It’s all hands on deck right now — and we’re all helping each other out as much as possible. It’s all worth it when I come home to my mom saying, ‘Meri ladki sab kuch sambhalti hai!’
People keep asking if I’m doubly scared because of my disabilities, but if anything, I feel braver. All my life, I’ve learnt to adapt to my situation and this time, it’s no different. Just like my hearing and voice, I can’t control the virus. This is the new reality and I’m going to take it one day at a time. Because no matter what happens, the world doesn’t stop for anyone. So, I put on a smile and keep going–as simple as that.”
Reproduced from Humans of Bombay.