On Being Deaf and Uneducated
Being uneducated is a whammy. Being uneducated and deaf is a double whammy. Now, being POOR, UNEDUCATED and DEAF? WOW! In Tagalog, we say to that person, “inabot na sya ng sobrang kamalasan sa buhay” (has reached too much misfortune in life). A person who has never attended any formal education is most likely a poor person. Who else cannot have schooling except someone who cannot afford to study?
I opted not to mention the name of the deaf and the place where it happened in order to protect him and of course the family (not his) who’s supposed to defend him because they understand his situation. However, this issue hits us right in our own sense of compassion.
During our “house visits” stint just this April, the group visited the ancestral home of the father of one of the deaf. We were warmly greeted by the family, relatives and even next-door neighbors of the deaf. Too warm, in fact because we felt like we were campaigning for an elective post. We all shook hands with everyone we’ve met. Almost everybody knew we were coming. And that includes the local deafies.
A couple of them arrived. One was proudly posting his newly polished red motorbike and hurriedly left after seeing us. The other one was a scrawny, average looking, probably in late twenties guy, with bulging eyes and sporting a lighted cigarette who greeted us by his homegrown signs. We were told that he was some kind of a poor town clown or a town’s fool. Now, this is very degrading and humiliating for someone who’s only “misfortune” was unable to hear. He was a “kababata” (childhood friend) of my deaf student and was never schooled due to family hardships.
What really pissed me off is when people who are supposed to protect him because they have a deaf relative (our student), started to throw insults at him with their non-verbal gestures even right in front of us. To top off the embarrassment, a videoke microphone was handed over him and motioned him to sing! I cannot swallow such a reprehensible display of shame. Once he started to “sing”, a spontaneous laughter was heard from the audience. Loud, inaudible, often off-key and painful sounds echoed the whole place.
I said to myself that I have to do something about it. So, I showed my discontent to the owner of the videoke machine. Well, he felt that the humiliation was already enough so he got the mic and motioned the deaf to just sit and stay. Then, he offered him a strong beer for free which he eagerly accepted. I believe that’s the only reason why he came, to get a free beer. I then, tried to make some sense out of him by signing to him a few gestures that I know of. He understood. I told him not to do that again.
Not every day I see guys like him. I’m surrounded mostly by deaf who are very much nurtured even pampered by their families. But it is on these days where I find that life’s imperfectness are often created not by nature but by people like us. 😦