By Karthik Chandrashekar
[This is Part – I of Karthik Chandrashekar’s inspiring life-story. Karthik was born with cerebral palsy.]
After a long gap, I am starting this article again. It’s been two years since I wrote a word. Don’t know where to start but I will try…
I am a weird, lazy, and crazy guy. I said I am weird because I like to do crazy things, which people don’t like, and some of the decisions I have taken so far in life make people wonder why I did such things. For instance, when I quit my college midway in MA, and, also, over the choice of my schooling.
I just trust my gut feeling, which sometimes I regret. I always think only after I act. Sometimes I think a lot and still end up with the wrong choice. I think too far ahead, which I can’t control because I just want to keep my life moving and not get stuck at any juncture. So in order to attain this, I think I have committed a lot of mistakes. I don’t think I have ever taken a risk in my life. I always wanted to play safe. But I love risks. I know it’s confusing but that’s the way I am. Sorry for using ‘I’s…I think, am goanna catch a cold!
I like to do something special. I want to be remembered by people. Someday, I want to do something for the nation and not just be a receiver. I know I should do this without any desire for fame but I want to be a part of history books. And not just be a part of facebook! I love history and Indian history, in particular. I want to inspire people like me. It would be lovely to be part of history but, for that to happen, I need to achieve a lot more. I want to be remembered as a nice guy and an interesting person, who is straight-forward not boring. An enigma…ha ha!
To start off, I joined Vidya Sagar School at the age of eight in 1993. I learned a lot from Vidya Sagar. The basic thing we were taught was self-belief. They made me understand, what really counts is what I have and not about what I have lost. Vidya Sagar enabled me meet new people and made me understand that there are so many other persons who have disability. Before I joined Vidya Sagar, nobody thought I could study. I started learning the alphabets when I was eight.
Before joining Vidya Sagar, I thought I was just an invalid person. But after joining, Vidya Sagar, I discovered a whole new world within myself and outside. I made new friends. I felt that I could do anything. This made me handle the pain when I had a knee surgery at the age of eleven. It took several months to heal. My self-belief helped me tide over.
Vidya Sagar was my first real exposure to the outside world. At first, it felt odd when people stared at me as though they were seeing an alien for Mars. I used the expression ‘alien from Mars’ to show how people stared at me as though they had not seen a person like me before: an alien from Mars with a pink mouth, with twenty heads, with 10000 GB memory and laser eyes, and flying faster than light.
Many people have helped me a lot in my life right from bus drivers to aayahs to strangers, and the auto people. But I have had to fight hard. I got used to it slowly as it taught me a lot of things both intellectually and emotionally. It was hard and it still is hard to convince myself to stick to one thing at time. When I was young I kept asking myself what I would do after I completed my study. However, I just wanted to complete my schooling at the time and it was hard even to accomplish this.
First I had to get used to dictating my answers to my scribes and many of my relatives thought physiotherapy was better for me rather than studying. Even today many of my relatives treat me like a child. I tried changing their perception but I could not. I must confess I have lot of ego because I love myself so much, which was one of the main reasons that helped me overcome these obstacles. I wanted to do something big in life. This desire made me believe in myself. There were many occasions when I felt like giving up. I felt so miserable inside that I even felt like dying but somehow my self-love and belief always came to my rescue.
All akkas and annas at Vidya Sagar were amazing. I can’t forget even one of them. Deepti akka made me think big and think creatively. Sudha akka understands me so well. Incidentally both of us joined the same year in 1993. Padma akka was very close to me. And, above all, Poonam akka, without whom I would not have come to Vidya Sagar. She is amazing and gave me the freedom to do anything I wanted to do. Shiva Anna, who is popular actor and RJ now, took care of me when we went on a school tour to Hyderabad. Now he has become very busy. There are many more people who helped me a lot at Vidya Sagar.
I owe my journey thus far to Vidya Sagar and I am happy I have given something back by inviting the chess champion, Viswanathan Anand, to become a brand ambassador of Vidya Sagar. Anand anna saw my e-mail in which I had mentioned how badly I wished to meet him. I seriously thought he never would but, to my pleasant surprise, he did reply and said that he would meet me soon. I was extremely happy when he agreed to become the brand ambassador of Vidya Sagar and raised funds for it. He also played four games with me, which I can’t forget in my life.
My father is a very strict person but he is humorous. Probably that’s where I picked my humor from. It’s mostly situational. I love punning a lot. I and my father fight a lot, like most fathers and sons. My relationship with him is not that close, compared to my mother. With him, I just discuss general things like cricket. He often accuses me of ‘not doing anything and not getting on.’ But he has given me most of the things I wanted. My mother mediates the disputes between us. Recently, he gave me a new mobile and it got hung. It led to a huge fight. My mother stopped it. My fights with my mother do not last long but my fights with my dad last very long. I won’t talk to him for a long time and he also won’t talk to me.
My mother is my guardian angel. She cares so much for me, like all mothers do, but she is special! She is everything to me. She is the main reason for whatever little I have achieved so far. She is my good friend, too. I share most of my fellings and thoughts with my mother, because I feel more comfortable talking with her. It’s typical Freudian theory. Boys show more affection towards the mother, while girls show more love towards the father.
She has taken a lot of trouble for me both from the family and the outside world. But she always stood by me, even though she did not get any support from anyone. She also solved many of my emotional problems, like when I proposed to a girl and she complained to my mom. My mother was angry for sometime but she made me understand what was wrong and that helped me. We fight with each other often but we are frank with each other. She is a very determined person. I know she will stand by me always.
She keeps telling me about my graduation ceremony in Loyola College. She was so happy when I received my certificate and thousands of people stood up and clapped for amma. She almost cried. I can never forget when I met Sachin Tendulkar and Vishy anna, she quietly stood behind me. When I quit college, she came and spoke to the principal. She was very upset.
I grew up fighting with my brother, especially when we were young. He is a very practical guy. He is now studying in the US. I learnt so much from him. He used to introduce me to his friends. He often calls me lazy, which I must confess is true, but a hard statement to digest.
Yes, I am lazy but the real reason is that I can’t fix my mind on something for a long time. I have lots of things on my mind and I can’t focus much. This makes me scared about my future. I sometimes get a feeling that my life is going nowhere. I often wonder what will happen after my parents are gone. But I get over it…
To be contd…
[Kartik Chandrashekar was born with cerebral palsy. He lives in Chennai. He has completed an M. Phil in English, a Diploma in Media Studies, an MA in History, a Diploma in Astrology, BLis, Basic Computer Diploma, and a Disaster Management Diploma. He runs a library from his home. Address: 81/D Tambah Road, West Mambalam, Arihant flat, Chennai – 33. Mobile number: 8122542365.]
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