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Disability Arts Online

Identity crisis? / 29 August 2014

Waiting for the guys to come and service my wheelchair, I watched the tail-end of a TV programme that had a sweet sounding Japanese female cooing about the laying and hatching of insect eggs and the emergence of new life. It was followed by a male voice talking the science of stars in the night sky.
A young female appeared on screen with a sketch pad, followed by a mature male who explained the sky to her and allowed her to look through his giant telescope while she marvelled and cooed in surprise and delight.
This short segment was followed by an adorable young female in an apron and spectacles being educated, by a grandfatherly figure, about pollination and the growing, ripening and harvesting of food.
The important thing here I was told, was that the voice of the older generation should be heard.
The TV screen rocks ominously while I wait.
My wheelchair has been making a clicking noise when the wheel turns. The engineer assures me this is caused by the age of the seat (I've had this chair for two years) and I find myself nodding gratefully in spite of logic, thanking him in a softer, higher pitch of voice to the one I would normally use, and generally acting like 'normal' person.
Who am I?

I give the chair a trial run; I click slowly until I build up speed and click faster. No one seems to notice, even the birds don't seem to care. There are a lot of birds in Tokyo. Busy flocks of sparrows, corvids, gulls and pigeons abound on the streets while in the green spaces more exotic birds thrive. It took my local birds a while to realise how unthreatening wheelborne people can be; these birds already seem to know.
I roll back wondering just how long I can cope with the clicking. I consider bringing back the engineer, but decide to wait. He is moving to a different area and I have already been introduced to the man who will service my chair next year. He speaks a little English. It seems as if everyone close enough to Ginza (where the Olympic village will be situated), is happy to be practicing their English already.



Who do I think I am
if my ancestors are
so quietly, culturally
invisible - as normal
as possible? Who do I
think I am if being
unnoticed is who I was?
Is being normal more
important than being
me? Who do I think I am
when there is only
Very Important Person
and nobody. Who do
I think I am when times change
and half the world is busy
working on their fifteen
minutes of fame? And it's
entirely possible that
in fifteen minutes
everybody will be
famous. Who do I think
I am when men and women
are happy to co-exist
on different planets?