There was an ancient story of the focus of Arjuna, the warrior. When the Guru Dronacharya asked Arjuna who was fixing the target on a bird ‘what he is seeing- Arjuna replied- Gurudev! Eye of the bird… Guru was amazed at Arjuna’s ability to focus. He became favorite disciple of Guru Dronacharya.
Today I am writing about the story of Nagarjun Rao Akula, elder son of a defense officer, a swimmer by passion, a cost accountant by profession, A soon-to-be Chartered Accountant by sheer will-power, a rebellious young man about systems and the way they should be! . Do the readers reminiscing about Amitabh of Janjeer?.. Well… add again AB of Natwarlal for his sense of humor.
At the onset of the things, he is no different than any other person. People might ask- what’s big deal in achieving so many things as a teenager… sachin did centuries and Viswanathan Anand became the youngest grand master of chess! But our hero is different. He has different ability called disability. He got contacted with polio at a tender age of two. Life stopped for his parents being their elder son crippled for the rest of his life. But Nagarjun says proudly about his father, who never let the perception of disability enter Nagarjun’s mind. It’s not easy raising a male child with physical disability, he says, bcoz people’s expectations on a male child starts before even he was born. Living out the expectation is more than a normal living…and to live that life full of challenges everyday… you got to perspire heavily to draw a drop of inspiration.
But Nagarjun handled all with just his grit and perseverance and he credits his parents entirely as his support system in achieving this. They don’t feel “ I lack any ability to be a responsible elder son ( he has a elder sister, married off) , in fact, they even think I can super achieve! “ and when asked whether it acts as a pressure on him- he doesn’t mince words and says “YES” but I counsel them and sometimes consoles myslef’ – is his answer. Further he adds- our lives are no different than other lives I guess!!”
The lives of many disabled may be same but the expectations and management of such expectations varies from individual to individual. The most common factor in challenged life is the will power to succeed despite the odds. That’s what made Nagarjun to work relentlessly despite his physical challenges. He chose swimming as his passion besides doing well in academics. He has won many awards for that and pursuing that with a die-hard attitude despite his busy schedule as articled student for chartered accountancy.
For a disabled person, nothing comes easy- he says ruefully. To get anything, we have to work double hard on weak limbs!! He says matter-of-factly. He is being felicitated by various member bodies in his contribution to Paralympics, and being meritorious in his Cost Accountancy. When asked why swimming- he simply says that is action! And I feel normal in water…and in future I can help others also. Really a farfetched thought for an average young person of today’s material world.
Swimming is mantra to reach many challenged and be a role model. “I don’t want to leave my sport despite my busy schedule; I will have my profession to reach my career goals and my swimming to reach larger base of physically challenged persons. I can never forget how hard I tried to convince many people to for things which normal people take for granted!” He has many questions swirling in his mind regarding system and the way disabled persons were treated in society. They can be summarized below, (though these are only snapshots of anger and helplessness that is deeply caused by society which fails to recognize & respect ability in disability)
· Why people either project us as super human beings who can do all or just useless?
· Why don’t society consider our emotions regarding career, opposite sex, friendships ?
· Given the chance, we are also equal contributors to society, but why people bring our physical status only in everything??
· Just to eliminate the word “ bechara” from the minds of people, how much and how hard we can try and why????
· Why persons with physical challenges are left out most of the time from the FUN part of life?
· Why people think that we have to be responsible all the time for whatever we do? We also can make mistakes, feel jealous, live and love too!! Our mind is not disabled!!
· You don’t need physical attributes to give the best in any profession you choose. I gave tuitions and studied myself. There were many people like me.
· People’s perceptions towards disability have to be changed. Before even talking about law makers, the change should come from within.
· Every Pwd’s life will be simple if and only if the government and system has a little bit sensitivity towards access.
· We want opportunity, not pity!
Dear friends and readers… Nagarjun is no different than any young person of India. He just stood with his sheer grit and will power in this race of life. He turned his anger towards insensitivity as a tool to exceed and achieve success. You can do it too!! You can get in touch with Nagarjun- firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t curse the god/system/life that it has given you challenges… Remember challenges makes life more meaningful.