I’m a writer, a motivational speaker, an activist for the disabled

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 03:42

“I was born and brought up in the US. Growing up, I used to play football, I was a swimmer, a writer, a model and my biggest dream was to become a doctor. One summer vacation, when I was 14 and travelling to India I didn’t take any Malaria pills…I was fine while I was there but when I got back to the US I fell sick. My temperature was fluctuating and I had a constant headache but the doctors there said it was just a seasonal flu. It got worse — I started hallucinating and when I reached the ER, I had a cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma for 23 days. During this time, I was declared dead twice and the doctors gave my parent’s the option of ‘pulling the plug’ and taking me off life support. My parent’s begged the doctors to somehow keep me alive until my birthday which was 7 days later… and call it a miracle but on my 15th birthday, I opened my eyes… paralysed neck down. The next few months were depressing for me — I even tried committing suicide twice because I felt so lost and dependent. It was during this time that I came across the book, ‘the Secret’ and started applying it — for 3 weeks I visualised moving my arms and call it mind over matter — it was only once I changed my frame of mind that my exercises began to work and I had mobility in my upper body!  We then moved back to India to try different treatments and that’s when I realised how inaccessible the world can be to the disabled. While I was taking the train to travel to Delhi, there was no way for me to enter the train except by being physically shifted in. It was the most uncomfortable and humiliating experience… two coolies held me— one by the legs and the other around my armpits. This second man then put his hands on my breasts and felt me up until he put me down. I was 17 and didn’t even know how to react…but it was then that I realised that I had probably cheated death for this — to understand what the disabled go through. Ever since, I’ve fought for making India more accessible towards the disabled — we’re not giving up but the least our government can do is give us basic infrastructure! While these external factors have made me feel isolated, the people around me made me feel comfortable in my own skin and I wouldn’t have made it here without them. My friend here, who’s originally my boss is one of them. He gave me my first job as a writer and the responsibility of heading a team of 25 writers at his startup! This gave me so much confidence and most importantly made me feel normal. The fact that I was treated as an equal, and my disability wasn’t mistaken for me having any less talent made me realise just how important the support of abled people is to make someone with disabilities feel included. Although we don’t work together anymore, we’re great friends. He’s been that friend that I could count on no matter what — always making me laugh, always making fun of me! It’s because of the support of people like him in my life that I’m able to believe that I can do anything — I’m a writer, a motivational speaker, an activist for the disabled and I even model…all because I believe I can…I’m a proud narcissist like that!”

(Story published at facebook page of Humans of Bombay)

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