“A conservative estimate of disabled in India is over 2% of the population. Most of them are fighting silent battles every moment and achieving small wins every day.
Belonging to this community, I feel happy and privileged to be recognised and appreciated to such an extent in the past few months. And at the same time with the existence of the likes of Louis Braille, Helen Keller and many more, I feel humbled.
I have always believed the word “handicap” is a union of two positive words handy and cap, both denote a sense of support. As being handy for someone and as a cap, playing the role of shade in the bright sunlight or taking the hits of crashing raindrops.
I was born in a nondescript village called Choudanakuppe in Tumkuru District of Karnataka and attended my village school till Class 4.
Very early, I began facing certain difficulties in reading the blackboard but as a child, I couldn’t comprehend it (the problem). Both my parents were illiterate, busy making ends meet and struggling with my brother who was losing mobility in his legs.
So call it fate and neglect, I lost my vision completely by the time I was 9.
This was a shock to my family and they tried getting me treatment but to no avail. Luckily my uncle made me join a school for the blind in Mysore and I restarted school.
For a freshly blind child, I needed to adapt to develop the orientation before the society relegated me to a position of losers. I had my share of embarrassments from not being able to find a path to the restroom and unable to bear severity of nature’s call I sometimes attended to it in corridors and classes, much to the disgust of people around me. I played the role of an involuntary clown who couldn’t understand the coordinates of normal clothing – wearing it inside out and upside down. But soon I went on to top the class, I got the badge of honour. I completed my education until class 10 in the same school in Mysore; I still choke with emotion when I think of all the years spent there.
I completed graduation where I met my future wife Achintha, my steadfast support through everything. I subsequently went on to find a job. But despite having a job an unsatisfaction brewed in me and I decided to take the UPSC plunge. My wife dedicated close to 10 hours a day just for my preparation, she would read out to me, make audio notes.
I have been told I have come far in life, but one never should forget where one came from. In my mind, the showreel of my frail mother making numerous trips to get a disability certificate and spending Rs 50 on it makes me jolt up even today.
But I tell this story not to jolt you – I tell it because I want to tell each one of you to never stop aspiring and never give up.”
Story By – Kempahonnaiah | IAS 2017 Batch | West Bengal Cadre
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