“Don’t die before your death”
There is nothing left with humans without humanity. It is the sole thing that matters when we call ourselves a HUMAN. A cheerful girl around 15 years of age, born & bought up in Jaipur, Rajasthan, who loves to play with her friends and is fascinated by the profession of a postman as he bears gifts and messages for everyone- today she is known as “The Girl on Wheels” as she is Ms. India Wheelchair 2017 Runner up, a TedX Speaker and a Motivational Speaker.
Ms. Ankita Sharma was in her school when she met with an accident. A branch of a huge tree fell on her and her life changed since then. She underwent a surgery as she was diagnosed with a clot in her head due to the accident along with a spinal cord injury that led to a misfortunate unjustifiable operation. The doctors mentioned that there will be only a 5% chance of regaining the senses in Ms. Sharma’s waist and legs. The bolt which the doctors inserted in her cord was misfitted which led to further complications. Yet, the mistakes were further rectified and she was discharged from the hospital, the medication & physiotherapy continued for a long time. “I used to try & sit a bit after the surgery as I wanted to appear for my 10th board examinations”. Her will to study stayed constant even after a year’s gap in her studies as she couldn’t attempt her board examinations due to a delay in submitting the examination form. Pushing herself to the extends no one can imagine, she resumed her studies. Ms. Sharma mentions that the lack of infrastructure in our country for people like her; it acts as a huge barrier in leading a normal life as no school around her fulfilled her requirements of basic life. Thus, she carried on with her studies privately. “Over sometime I realized that I can’t be like this all my life. I need to live. I need to do what I like and enjoy.” says Ms. Sharma.
Nothing in life is a one-day thing. As time passed, she accepted herself; a new self who was all set to explore the world. She started going out to movies, catching up with her friends and optimistically leading her life and then she saw an opportunity to participate in Ms. India. After the encouragement by her friends, she sent the entry and surprisingly got shortlisted within 2 days. “The main task was to convince my parents but surprisingly they agreed to it.” says Ms. Sharma.
As she was already working by then, she booked her and her mother’s ticket to Mumbai. It was a great chance for her to explore an amazing city that never sleeps. Taking a few jumps towards the sky, she already got shortlisted in the first couple of rounds and in no time, she was crowned as a Runner up of Ms. India Wheelchair 2017. Now there were going to be no breaks in her ride to fly high!
Soon, people started recognizing her; inviting her for facilitating and honoring her for her achievements. Ms. Sharma has also been awarded as ‘Women of the Future’. She is also a TedX speaker which was one of the things on her bucket list. Being a motivational speaker, Ms. Sharma talks on the topic of discrimination & inequality. She looks forward to influencing people to be good and do better for this world and themselves. During her interview with Peach Blink, she mentioned that it is very difficult to live independently in this country. Firstly, living in a society where everyone looks up to you and comments on everything you do- “People come and say to me ‘you are so beautiful yet on a wheelchair” mentions Ms. Sharma. Secondarily, the infrastructure of our developing nation is not suitable for every populace in this country. It is very difficult to go anywhere outside the city as there is no public transportation accessible to people on a wheelchair or no ramps for help. She mentions “as I am earning, I can afford cab services but what about the people who live in rural areas? It is very difficult to expect a change in this society if no one starts to speak about it. When I am invited to any event, I every time highlight these topics rather than emphasizing my own story.” says Ms. Sharma. She does say that if I don’t speak about it then who will? And I will speak again and again until and unless I don’t see a change no matter how much annoying it feels to the audience.
Ms. Sharma shares her experience and mentions how difficult it is to travel by cab. Many of the drivers reject her ride as they don’t want to help a girl on the wheelchair. One of the cab drivers once asked her to book an ambulance as she was on the wheelchair and not a cab. “Such behavior breaks my heart as a human.” mentioned Ms. Sharma. As important it is to make changes in the society, companies need to guide their drivers as well. She continues, “We just want to feel equal; we are disabled we know that & we accept that it is a part of us. People ask us that how they should acknowledge us? Especially abled? Disabled? Call us by our name! We have names!”
These things are not something which needs to be highlighted. Not giving someone the same treatment just because they are on a wheelchair doesn’t make sense. See their work don’t see the wheelchair. Being on a wheelchair cannot change the strength and capabilities a person inherent. It has been 12 years on the wheelchair for Ms. Sharma and the days which she has been through act as her motivation. She reminds herself of the pain she has felt and the hurdles she has crossed; it helps her to face the challenges of today. Your perspective tells a lot about you when you choose what you want to look like in a person in front of you.
Being so high on self-motivation, she also acts as a motivational anchor for others. Once she got a call from a girl whose brother was also on a wheelchair and wished to die. He wasn’t able to recover mentally as he wanted to study in a university and he wasn’t permitted by the management to do so. Ms. Sharma helped him to get out of it mentally step by step and lead his life in optimism. She recently has collaborated with ‘Livon’ as their brand model. This year Ms. Sharma was not able to send an entry for Ms. world as she was not keeping well but she looks forward to sending the entry next year! As a message she says. “Be human. Don’t let your passion & dream die. If you let it die, there is nothing to live for. Don’t die before your death.”
- Team SATYAVACHAN
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