“While the Polio vaccine is given to prevent the condition amongst children, I fell prey to the unfortunate scenario where it backfired. Yes, I contracted the virus only after taking the medication and it’s been a whirlwind of a journey since then.
Now while I feel it’s okay to even call me ‘handicapped’, treating me with contempt and a tone of worthlessness is what’s often hurtful. And with society today, it’s either pity or disdain that I face on an everyday basis, when all I crave for is just acceptance! There have been numerous occasions where people have casually written me off as ‘incapable’ of a particular task and I’d to strive extra hard just to prove such mindsets wrong.
Nevertheless, looking back, this attitude for facing challenges didn’t come in as early as I’d have wished for. In school, for example, I’d have peers pour water next to their seats just so I wouldn’t sit with them. From that to being denied admissions quoting what a huge hindrance my disability would be to others, to people even asking me to settle down with easier degrees, there’s been judgement all throughout my formative years.
However, despite the testing circumstances, the person who changed it all for me was my elder sister. She was my biggest support system, who’s ensured meticulously that I experienced all the joys of my youth. My mother too, as a fiercely independent woman herself, raised me to never be reliant on anyone. And with their trust, I was subsequently able to achieve many milestones like staying alone in the UK for my masters in genetic engineering, getting selected for my job normally, without any special reservations and so much more. The road blocks ,if any, have ,in fact, been due to other’s preconceived perceptions of my capability.
Now proving this point one again, was an opportunity to participate in a pageant, post my marriage. I was more inclined to losing gracefully than being given a consolation prize for the sake of my condition. In fact, I’d specifically requested while applying to not give any preference to my disability. And guess what? I actually won! It felt surreal, for the judges told me it was my intellect and attitude that gave me an edge over the other participants.
Now that incident again was a huge boost to my morale! So with time, I started defining my life with small wins like these and subsequently started sharing my journey to motivate others as well!
Moving forward, what I envision is to normalize the idea of disability amongst people. Only if that’s done, will the world open newer doors for others like me. It’s going to be a big task indeed but I guess it’s ultimately about feeling confident on the inside and letting my work speak for itself!”