I don’t know him well. He is my college mate and I know his name but our familiarity is little beyond ‘hello’. I see him often, coming from and going to classes and mess, and once in a while on campus elsewhere. We didn’t study together in a class, we are not friends and we barely interacted ever. I hear of him indirectly when his name pops up in campus discussions, but otherwise, he might as well be a stranger to me.
Yet, I find passing him by difficult when we happen to be going in same direction. I notice strange feeling of guilt in overtaking him. Sometimes I nod at him as I saunter ahead, but mostly, I don’t. Rarely, we make small talk. In any case, I find it embarrassing to trying to outrun him. I dare not see his eyes and I move swiftly with my eyes downcast. I pretend that I didn’t see him, so that I can sooth my consciousness of my outmaneuvering him. I also finds it difficult to move around conversing with others when he is around, knowing that he can see me.
I don’t know why it happens. I am reasonably sure he doesn’t mind. He has learned to live with that all his life. Indeed, my any deviation from normal behaviour is cruel reminder to him. I shouldn’t even be treating him special enough and unlike others to find it difficult. I don’t think I would have minded that either. I can’t say for sure, obviously, but hey, someone or other is always outrunning me and I don’t mind, so surely, he doesn’t either. Still, I always avoid his glance if I had to outpace him or move in his vicinity. Still, I always find my consciences kicking me. Not that I don’t do it: I do it more often than not, but not without feeling guilty.
I don’t know why should it happen just because he is in wheelchair. He has been in one, perhaps, most of his life.