Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Experience with Human Library as a book :)

Something not necessarily connected with Learning disabilities and cerebral palsy but there has been a compulsion and desire to pen this down into words. The experience,the ensuing emotions,the feeling of being centred and connected with my authentic self-all of it and so much more post the Human Library experience on July 2 at Mumbai ( Title Waves)

A bit of a background to it- Human Library is definitely something extraordinary and one of a kind – a speaking library, where the books talk! Ronni Abergel, a resident of Denmark came up with this unique idea in 2000 and  over the last 17 years, this initiative has spread across the world.
This initiative allows you to walk in the shoes of the person who has experienced it.
The reader gets to select his/her genre of story and these stories are real experiences of people, which they themselves narrate with real emotions and perspectives.
The names of the books are anonymous, and the readers are also free to keep their anonymity as well. Most stories follow a pattern that revolves around certain hardships or traumatic incidents that the human books have been through, which in return have invited some form of social prejudice. This helps the readers understand things from a very different perspective which has been personally felt and experienced by one.This is also a wonderful platform for people with varied obstacles, issues and views in life to step up and be heard by a larger sector of the society.

When I filled up a form sent to me by my sister and I was chosen to  be a book,i kind of knew what I had to do. however I did need to understand for myself why I was choosing to be a book and what was my purpose behind it? once that fell into place,i had to create a title,summary and then a gist of content that could help me converse with my readers.

I went into this with no expectation. As a deaf person and a mother to a child with cerebral palsy,the challenges have been life altering but am no disability activist. My goals have always been towards tuning in within,moving towards acceptance from denial and understanding that the situation has to be dealt with so there it is-deal with it. The conversations/sharing with my readers allowed me to look at my own challenges through a whole new lens. No one can 'see' I'm deaf so its an invisible albeit real challenge. The questions asked were varied from wanting to know what a hearing aid looked like to how did I cope and how did I lip read? To questions about what struggles I faced as a woman/mother, about my daughter,about cerebral palsy. I had an amazing bunch of readers and I believe that I was blessed they chose me as their book :)

A book  was allotted to 5-8 readers at a time for 30 minute sessions. This was not just about me narrating my story. It was also about allowing my readers the space to ask questions,have a dialogue,simply ponder and reflect or just be. I loved the fact that I was able to flow with my story differently each time with each set of readers and how seamless it was. I felt no discomfort,in fact I felt more centered than before. I realized with the feedback and questions how much my story and sharing helped so many readers who asked me about support groups and therapies and coping strategies. Something that is so much a part of me-my deafness ,raising a child with challenges that leaves me jaded at times,could mean so much to another person listening to me- it made a world of a difference!
I'm just so glad I got to do this. To be a 'living book'!