Not differently-abled, actually such people are DEFINITELY-ABLED
My small attempt to bring some changes in perception of people who think “Disability is lack of ability or it is Differently-abled”. Both terms are misnomers. But actually such people are DEFINITELY-ABLED
India is a country of people with mixed cultures and traditions which includes absurd believes on irrational supernatural influences, leading to good or bad luck in life. One of the categories that usually get affected by this are ‘people with disabilities’. They are still considered a curse and bigger burden by several societies of the country. Thus many are deprived opportunities to several basic necessities such as schooling, seeking jobs, socializing etc… But things are changing for the good. There are several initiatives taken by – NGOs to bring in awareness to society; Corporate firms create platforms to exhibit and project talents, and to provide opportunities to learn and seek jobs.
Infrastructure is another major impediment which deters them from attempting to be independent. Most of the roads and buildings in India are still not disable friendly for easy navigation. These are some of the basic challenges which restrict people with disability and make them think twice and prevent them to move and explore independently. As indicated before, things are changing. Several disability related laws are formalized and initiatives are collectively taken by government, NGOs and corporate to change these and to bring in a new perception in the eyes of people.
Another major hurdle that such people face are lack of support and rejections from their own dear ones. Reasons being their families and caregivers also go through a lot of stress and challenges in bringing them up fighting against all odds in society which ultimately leads to grave discriminatory practices towards these people. This is mainly due to wrong perceptions, self-doubts, misconceptions and mental blocks which prevent them from giving disabled individuals an opportunity to prove and succeed.
This is one such real life story of an individual who disproved all above stated barriers and achieved success and independence in life.
Dedication and Responsibility of Parents and Sibling
It was school time and just like any other kid, she also does not want to leave the comfort zone to step into school which was always been a strange environment for her. This little girl was cute, smart, very attractive but shorter than other kids. Poor young mother used to remain under the shelter of a tree till 12.00 noon praying god her child should not be sent out of the class as husband had managed to get admission after facing lot of difficulties. Her father was a banker and was into a transferable job. Every time cycle repeats. Mother left her government job to take care of her.
Illness and Health issues
She had low immunity since birth and had to visit doctor at least once every 2 weeks for high fever. Parents used to spend several sleepless nights taking care of her. They tried different doctors, and treatments to get her daughter relieved of this cycle. Finally an angel in the form of Homeopathic doctor who was Principal of homeopathy college Calicut treated her for more than a year to improve her immunity.
Next important issue was, she was not squatting and not able to walk properly even after 3 years. Parents were worried on how she will be able to manage in life. Mother did several prayers to god to show them a solution. Finally god introduced them to another angel. An orthopedic surgeon who visited a hospital in Calicut from Liverpool happen to treat mother after she met with an accident. During one of those days, accidentally his eyes fell on to the little girl. He quickly identified her issues and advised for a surgery. Thus surgery was performed in her right leg at the age of 3 years and corrective shoes were prescribed for her legs after which she started walking, running, playing like any other kids. Life became much better.
Encourage talent and skills
The girl had a good voice and a taste for music. She was put into musical training early at the age of 4. But when she submitted her name to the teacher to enroll for the music competition among students, she was not included. Undaunted by the discrimination her mother stood firm and fought with the teachers and succeeded. The girl never looked back. She won all the competitions in music, literary and other fields thereafter till she completed her school education. One such example is that, she has won the top scorer of Kerala Kalolsavam consecutively for 2 years by participating in maximum number events, winning the first prizes and helping the school secure the shield.
As every year progresses, her brother who is 4 years elder than her grew taller and taller where as she never was keeping up with the pace. Finally her height got stunted and stopped at 3’ 9”. She keep facing scornful looks and words of ridicule in public. In every new school, she had to face the glaring looks, sly remarks from fellow students and teachers doubted about her capabilities. She had to prove herself time and again.
Her brother used to be always around supporting, protecting her and used to teach her every sports (badminton, table tennis, cricket, carom, chess…) and make her play with his friends. Father used to mentor her by inculcating positive frame of thoughts and an attitude. Mother’s strong mind, determination and eye for detail gave her the self-channelizing power to become independent.
Encourage what you are passionate about
The seed of passion to pursue medical education was en-grained in her at a very early age. She vigorously prepared for competitive entrance exams and secured admission to Dental course after performing well in the common entrance examinations.
Role of Teachers and Friends (society)
The Principal of the college was reluctant to admit her because he felt that she would not be able to perform clinical procedures because of her shortness. She did not accept it and fought her way with the Principal and convinced him to admit her after assuring him that he could dismiss her from the course if she was found wanting in the performance of clinical procedures. She was asked to stay in hostel, away from home for the first time as parents were living elsewhere. With her attitude and charisma, she made lots of friends and managed well for the whole of 4 1/2 years in hostel. Also with the help and support of her friends and teachers she performed all the clinical procedures. After treating several thousands of patients successfully during the final year and internship, she passed out as an outstanding student from the Government Dental College, Thiruvananthapuram.
As a young doctor eager to plunge into practice, she approached several fellow dentists for opportunities. She experienced the greatest insult of her life. None were willing to take her as their assistant and provide her a job.
But her attitude has always been not to yield but to strive to keep fighting. She never allowed her spirit to go down. Her teachers encouraged her always during those crisis phase. Her efforts finally fructified when she got a job as a lecturer in a private dental college in Chennai where she happily served in the company of equals. She derived professional satisfaction in teaching and undertaking clinical treatment of outpatients. She was determined to stand on her own toes and live independently. But the poor pay from the college forced her to look for other avenues.
A new Challenge and Beginning
Information Technology sector was in its growing path looking to encompass newer fields. Her brother gave her an insight about Healthcare IT which was in the nurturing phase. She looked for and got an appointment as a consultant in an IT firm in Hyderabad. Her job was to co-ordinate between the doctors abroad and the engineers offshore who developed software. Initially, she did face rejection from her fellow colleagues working with her who tried to put her down. With a continued persistence, she could prove them wrong and won them over. She took an MBA degree in Healthcare & Hospital Administration to understand the business side of industry. She was able to perform on par or even better than her peers at work.
Now after a 10 + years, she has become one of the most experienced, skillful and respected personality in the Healthcare IT. She now keeps herself upgraded in the IT field, besides keeping abreast with developments in the medical field by keeping in touch with her peers and through other media. She has traveled to foreign countries alone, stayed alone and managed her official work, independently. Music is her passion. In parallel, she has also given a few music concerts.
The wailing little girl who fought at every stage to become what she is today is me, Dr. Lakshmipradha Srinivasan.
Morale of the story
I would have become a timid and incapable woman had not my parents (Srinivasan and Ganga) and sibling (brother Karthik) provided me encouraging and healthy environments. They taught me to rely on my strength and not get defeated by any weaknesses. They taught values like honesty, self-belief and resilience. Society provided me opportunities to win over and accomplish “what they thought was impossible by me”. I found an opportunity to prove in every hurdle. Every struggle and impediment strengthened my resolve to fight against social stigma and injustice and prove me intrinsic worth and strength to the outside world.
Today, I have achieved an important place in society and become economically and socially independent. I carry myself in life with full confidence. Even though I am short in height, I have never allowed myself to be dwarfed in my thoughts and action. Today, I stand tall by my achievements.
I wish that similarly placed people and their parents should not be cowed down by pressures, instead should stand strong and fight for their rightful place in society like any other citizen. Just Remember “YOU ARE AS TALL AS YOU THINK AND ADORE IN ALL RESPECTS”. Finally it’s all in your mind, body is just a machine which obeys your mind.
My humble request to all readers is to share this to people who you think will gain some value and motivation reading this. My small attempt to bring some changes in perception of people who think “Disability is lack of ability or it is Differently-abled” Both terms are misnomers. But actually such people are DEFINITELY- ABLED.