I decided to only focus on my studies and just take one day at a time. I still remember when I was just pursuing my 10th standard, the biggest challenge at that time was to be able to climb staircase. So it has really taken me a long way.
I have also felt that this accident took away a lot from me. It took my ability to walk. It took my ability to do a lot of things with my hands. I mean if you all close your hands, both your hands and clench it in a tight fist, like how you punch someone, both your hands, that is my reality.
I mean imagine doing — imagine writing with it. Imagine holding a spoon with it. Imagine applying a Kajal with it. Everything. So that was my reality. I didn’t know that I was ever going to be able to do something but here I am and I have always believed that there is an invisible thread that connects us to what we are destined to achieve.
The thread may sometimes tangle, it may even stretch but it never breaks. I feel that this accident has given me a second life. I lost 80% blood. I was going to die that day. My doctors had told that I had lost — my BP was zero and it was just a gory sight but I just loved how my life has turned out to be.
I have never felt bad for the way my body is. The society we live in attributes a lot of importance to beauty. More than one’s education or career, one is always focused into a competition to become most beautiful. You have to look your best at all times. Fairness products, perfect makeups, everything but I have learned to accept myself and be happy in a society like this.
But I do remember that when I was in college I tried to camouflage my disability. I tried to wear full sleeves. I tried to shy away from shaking hands and then I realized that what am I doing, this is not my reality. This is not — if I am just trying to be too normal and what is normal, what is the definition of normal, who defines normal actually – I just knew that this was not helping me to trying to be someone who I was not.
Then one day I decided to step out and talk about what happened to me, to speak my fears. I learned that going out and talking to people gives you that amazing strength and courage to move on. And I think that’s what it gave me and thus I began my journey as a speaker.
I once read somewhere that a measure of one’s success is the degree of positive influence that you have on someone else’s life as well as your own. I immediately recollected the mails I had received from people. They used to write to me saying that they had stopped complaining, that they stopped blaming, that they started hoping, they started living.
That to me was my proudest moment ever. As Scott Hamilton rightly said, the only disability in life is a bad attitude. So going by this definition I don’t think I have a disability. I feel this is my superpower.
My legs still hurt when I walk and I have to really convince my mind that I have to take those extra steps, I have to walk because I have to continue whatever I am doing. But that’s not all.
When I was bedridden in the hospital, one day the doctors declared that this girl is never going to be able to walk again. But was I to believe them? Never.
I walked the ramp last year in a showstopper gown to promote accessibility and fashion. So why should fashion be only for the so-called normal people, why not for differently-abled as well? So that was the whole campaign and they designed these lovely gowns; one was a beautiful Maharani pink and red gown and the other was a Spanish frill gown and it was accessible so that I could wear it on my own, because how many shops you go and you can just say that I am someone with artificial hands and I need to buy a gown. I have never really seen a place like that.
So this is what I am advocating for fashion and accessibility. So this is for people — by fashion is for everyone, everyone wants to look good. So it really does not matter whether you have a perfect body or whether you have — it’s your definition, what is perfect, it is all your definition.
The accident was a terrible experience but sometimes I thank God it happened because I don’t think my life would have been as incredible as it is today.
Wherever you are, accept yourself and move on from there. I believe it is the why questions that kill people from inside. If I had started questioning why this accident happened to me, why me, why I had to go through all this, I would probably have spent my life chasing these questions in vain.
The moment you accept yourself what has happened to you, I believe the road ahead opens up, the fog clears, and it’s a beautiful journey from there on – places, people and events, enhance, enlighten and enthrall you.
So never give up. Why should you give up? I believe I have reasons to give up everyday. Even now it was a strenuous task to walk. Every day is a challenge, every day I know big or small is that everyday you all face challenges but why give up.