Noorudin Bhamani a.k.a. Munna Bhai: A Hero in his own right

True Story
I got a call from our chairman that a guy called him and said he can take care of our vocational training school for mentally retarded children.
The headmistress had left the same day and I was worried about the facility when the call came in.
I was relieved, mainly due to the fact that at least there will be someone who is ready to take care of these special children.
We decided to visit Mr. Noorudin Bhamani – Munna Bhai, the same evening.
Little did I know that this confident gentleman, who could speak on practically any topic, who was so well informed about the disability issues of Pakistan and international conventions and researches going on, who had his own charity – Awareness Pakistan – was totally immobile. Yes he couldn’t move from his bed. He could talk looking into your eyes and was so strong in his beliefs that you wish you were never on his bad side.
I would like to post here his story in his own words. Truly inspirational!

The Journey Thereafter
Noorudin. S. Bhamani

“Friends and even strangers have nicked-named me ‘The Fighting Spirit’‘The Motivator’ ‘The Gallant Crusader’ and the list goes on…they often approach me and express wonder that I can face life, day after day, with a progressive disability and still be able to smile. Sometimes I do wish I could call in ‘sick’ and be absent from my bed, weak muscles and twisted shape. My message, I suppose, would sound something like this; “I need to take today off from my disability because I’m sick of lying in bed, eating and having other personal needs being taken care of in bed, which have broken my endurance.”
During times when I consider making this call, I realize that such thinking is hardly the best cure. My endurance actually becomes stronger by exposing myself to the source of my discontent. The way to beat this kind of distress is to give it a strong shot of determination. As worn-out as I may get from the daily strain, I will be able to face life’s problems head on.
I am a 50-year-old Person with Disabilities. It all started 37 years ago when I could not perform well in my school team. I used to fall down while running in the playground, had difficulty in climbing stairs, getting up from a sitting position. Alarmed, my parents took me to a doctor and after a full 21 days of diagnoses were informed that I could not lead a normal life and move about freely, and would become, in time, totally confined to bed. I was diagnosed in 1973 as affected by Muscular Dystrophy (weakening of muscles and tissues). The doctor explained that Muscular Dystrophy was incurable and one in two million people were affected by it.
It is not only the physical pain that the body goes through, but the emotional pain that the mind suffers is unbearable. In any event, it is a defining moment when one realizes that his lifestyle has been changed forever. My first reaction to the Disability was of denial. Who me, I can’t be a Person with Physical Disabilities,” I thought that the doctor was crazy, as the pain of being a Person with Physical Disabilities forever was unbearable. I think nearly everyone goes through such a phase on discovering that they have a debilitating Disability.
The denial lasts for a while because it becomes obvious what you can and can’t do physically. I can tell you from my experience that until you say the words “Yes, I am a Person with Disabilities,” you cannot move on with your life.

Then comes the questions about the future course of life, as one comes to term with the disability. At this point anger starts to set in, and you keep thinking ‘why did this happen to me?’ One either absorbs the anger or externalizes it.

If the anger is externalized, the person starts yelling at the people that he loves and needs the most. Marital and parental relationships become very strained because of this anger. But if you take in the anger the person appears normal and gives the impression that everything is fine, while inside he is being eaten up by the disability. This usually leads to other illnesses and one withdraws from the family emotionally. Anger, either internalized or externalized can destroy relationships and lives.

It was at this point that my mother caught me in her arms tightly and taught me the most valuable lesson of my life. She told me, “Son, this is destiny, fight with all your will- power and have utmost faith in ‘Allah’. Life is to be lived and enjoyed, so live it and never regret your personal losses. ‘Allah’ will always be with you.” Her advice had an impact on me. I thought why not give it a try. I realized it would be good for me to live a meaningful life than to survive as a useless person.

I then visited a rehabilitation centre for the physically disabled and heard the grievances and problems of other Persons with Disabilities as well. After listening to them, I felt that my loss was nothing compared to the losses they had experienced. In fact when my turn came, I was embarrassed to say anything.

The therapist at the center explained to me that becoming disabled was a major loss in my life and that I had to treat it like the loss of a loved one. “A loved one” I asked. “Yes,” he said, “you have lost yourself, the person that you had become.” I couldn’t do anything else but agree.

He told me that I had to first mourn the loss of my identity if I was going to heal emotionally, and then deal with the physical disability that I had and move on with my life. He warned me that it wasn’t going to happen over-night. It would take six months or a year or maybe longer to grieve. With that, I realized that a part of me was gone forever, but that it was okay because there still was a lot of me left. Slowly, over the next year and a half, I started overcoming the emotional scars that I had developed with my disability.

When I reached the middle stage of my progressive disability, and had become a wheelchair user, then I started working hard to achieve what I wanted from my wheelchair. I educated myself, I started coaching students who were doing their Masters in English. At present I am an expert on Disability Issues; I conduct training workshops and give open lectures on Disability Issues. I also motivate Persons with Disabilities as well as able-bodied people to approach life in a positive way. Through the years, I have discovered the other side of myself.
At present my progressive Disability has advanced further and I have been totally confined to bed since the past 13 years. I received something on 13th Oct 2006, that again changed my whole lifestyle and opened up a whole new world” for me. I was invited to an Iftar party by my Persons with Disabilities friends at Association of Physically Handicap (Adult) ‘APHA’ They forced me to attend the party, as my excuse that of being confined to bed, they offered to arrange for a mobile bed on the venue for my comfort. I was over whelmed by their closeness and agreed to participate. I had committed, but was panic-stricken by my decision. A person who has not left his room since the last 11 years was going to travel in an ambulance from P.I.B. up to Gulistan-E-Johar almost 17 km and back, was chewing my guts. I put a shot of will-power in me and decided to go for it, ‘and boy was I in for a surprise’. The heavenly warmness and love, showered on me and my family by my fellow Persons with Disabilities and their families when I reached there was as if we were in heaven as far as our feelings goes.
Today I don’t regret my decision, if I would have not gone I would have missed  another beneficial factor in my life that was created there, now I have gained the confidence of going out in an ambulance on a mobile stretcher, ”I can visit my friends, and can take out my family to dinner. I can get out and do things now, which before seems like impossible. I was trapped within the walls of my room and had even considered it as my last stop-over before my death. The last time I felt so free was in 1984-85, when I could walk with my friends support and could go around in a Rickshaw or a Taxi with the help of my friends”.
 I have start another mission of creating awareness on Equality, Social Inclusion, Justice &Self-Esteem of Persons with Disabilities and educating the general public on shedding off their discriminatory attitude towards the disabled community and giving them moral support, through open lectures in Colleges, Universities, Community Centers and Public places.
I have also create a NGO by the name of Awareness Voluntary Organization with projects like Awareness Pakistan (Promoting Equality & Social Inclusion of the Disabled People) and Wheelchair Clinic (Proving Wheelchairs, Tri-Cycles & 3 Wheeler Motor Cycles to Persons with Disabilities for Mobility and Self-Employment, I also have released a Documentary on CD ’Awareness – 1(A Documentary on the disabilities and the disabled)’. focusing the abilities of Persons with Disabilities to be distributed free of cost among the general public to create awareness and positive attitude towards Persons with Disabilities. I am currently enjoying working from my bed. Emotionally, I am still healing; I don’t think I will ever completely overcome the loss due to my Disability, but I have learned how to adjust and can honestly say that I have adapted myself to my Disability. My relationship with my wife and daughter are wonderful and we all understand what has happened to me and have accepted the changes that have occurred and those which will come as my Disability progresses.

My message to other Persons with Disabilities is that it is important that we mourn our disability like we would mourn the loss of any loved one in our lives. This process helps tremendously in coping with the situation. Remember, healing is a process that will take time, it just doesn’t happen over-night.

Today no reins can hold me back. Today, I am ALIVE, ACTIVE, and INVOLVED

I request all the readers to please pray to ‘ALLAH’ for my good health, strength and endurance.”

I am sure you now know what an individual is capable of doing, once he puts his thought and heart to it!

And, of course, how blessed are we that we can walk and do things ourselves without the help of others…

Have a great life!

Nuruddn Abjani

NB: You can post your comments here and I hope Munna Bhai will reply to them.

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