La tensión entre los que deben defender ciertas normas, opiniones y valores, y los que luchan por otras nuevas, es el resultado sobre el que descansa la evolución de la sociedad.

Serge Moscovici

Letter to the editor (Triguero ML, 2012) (doc)

My name is Mari Luz and this is my story. I was born thirty years ago, more dead than alive given the hours that it took to get me out of my mother’s womb, and I would have died had it not been for a practicing doctor, because the midwife wanted to “throw this thing to the trash”.

I was very small. I was a baby, right? But I wasn’t just that. I was a “dwarf”, as a doctor sharply told my mother.I was growing older. A girl doesn’t realise these things, she asks herself questions, but doesn’t find answers. Why, when I arrive at my kindergarten class, do the children say “Here comes the midget”, singing in mockery? Why do people turn to look at me? Why is my sister, who is two years younger than me, able to turn on her bedroom light and I am not?You know that you are shorter, but not a “dwarf”.

Thousands of things happened in my life. I studied, I had my rebellious period at school, I fell in love, I fell out of love as there is no other remedy. Taller or shorter, I lived each period of my life like any other girl who doesn’t have the problem I do.I was about to have an operation to grow, but everything turned out wrong. This would be another long story to tell, but I don’t want to remember it, nor do I want to waste your time. This is why I was in a very deep depression. I had no desire to live, but the fear of death and the image of my parents and sister saved me from taking my own life. When I thought about it, I said to myself: How can I do this to them? One day somebody was cruel to me and opened my eyes. From then on, I decided that everything had finished. I had to move forward, I would have to live with my problem, and whoever didn’t love me as I was wouldn’t be worth it.

I started studying again, preparing for exams, looking for work, etc.I called to request interviews, they asked me several questions and I complied with the prerequisites, but when they saw me in person, wow! They weren’t interested anymore. I was lacking in strong presence. No, I didn’t turn up dirty or poorly dressed, I turned up just as I had to. Well, despite everything I recognise that I’m a little presumptive. So, what was a strong presence? Like I said to a man on one occasion, being in one of those situations, why do they not put in the job advert that one of the requirements is being 1.80 m tall and measuring 90-60-90? I couldn’t help it and I got very angry. But, despite all of the disappointments, I kept preparing myself and looking for work.

In July 1999 I had just finished a 9-month course in IT and I was in practical classes to get my driving license when, via Faedis -an association for the handicapped- I found out about a floral art course.In truth, I didn’t fancy it. I wanted to relax a little during summer, plus I had a lot of interviews prepared for that month.They told me to do it, given that later on they were going to hire people to work in the shop they were going to open. My response was, “Yeah right! They’re not going to employ me! ”But I started the course and, out of all the girls attending, the only one who was notably handicapped was me.The others had internal problems, as I call them (bones, back, transplants, etc.)

Once, looking at the index of a book that dealt with different disabilities, I read: “The only disability which makes us laugh”. It caught my attention and I thought that it may be something that barely had any importance, but I was surprised when I saw that it was about my disability (achondroplasia). It spoke of jesters and clowns, of the role that “dwarfs” have had throughout history.

It’s true, my disability provokes laughter.When I speak with other handicapped people, they say that I am fortunate to be able to walk, or that I don’t have pain in my body, and yes, this is true and I am thankful for that, but I can also say to them that they aren’t pointed at with fingers when walking in the street, and they don’t hear phrases like, “But do dwarfs still exist?” The mentality of some people still today is incredible.

Anyway, returning to the floral art course, we were told that later on they were going to employ three of us for the flower, plant and gift shop, the name of which would be “La Flor de la Vida” (The Flower of Life). A job working with the public, and the only one who had a notable disability was me.I will bet an arm and a leg that they don’t employ me!It’s just as well that is an idiom, because if not, I would have lost my arm and leg. They selected me for work. I have been working at La Flor de la Vida for five months now and I still don’t believe it. The company has been titled “special employment centre” and is fighting for a lot of projects to be carried out on a national scale and it will give work to many handicapped people. The road is long and very hard, but I am sure that in the end everything will be alright. How can something like this not be achieved? At the end of movies, the good guys always win; I think that in life, the good guys win also.As I said at the start, with this letter I want to send hope to all those people who, just like I did one day, start to lose their hopes and dreams. Don’t give up. If I managed it, I’m sure you guys can too. All of us can manage it!And as for the conscious message I want to send out to all businesspeople, business owners, bosses or people who conduct job interviews,I want to tell them that all us disabled people are people just like everybody else and that, even when we are being rejected due to our problem, we may be better prepared than them for the position.Please, people, we are in the 21st century, not in the Middle Ages! Now I feel happy, I feel valued, I want to live, I can be sad sometimes, but, of course, this is just like anybody else. And I recognise that some complex will attack me sometimes, but I keep moving forward.I give thanks to that practising doctor who saved my life.To my mother, my father and my sister for seeing their image when I sank, for always being there, for never leaving me.

Thanks to my family and friends.To my coworkers, thanks for being companions and friends.And, from the depth of my heart, THANK YOU in capital letters, to Eva Canga, my boss, the person who created La Flor de la Vida.

Thanks, because you didn’t look at me like everyone else does. Thank you because you saw in me a person, and that was enough, because for you I was not a dwarf. I was Mari Luz. Thanks also to Pedro Kimber, my teacher for the course, the technical advisor at La Flor de la Vida. Thanks also to you for accepting me as I am. You will soon see that everything will move forward. You deserve it too, and I just wish there were more people like you two.

Now, finally, thanks to all of you for publishing my letter and thanks to those who have read it.A kiss of hope for all.

Mari Luz Triguero Cuervo