With nine years of experience rolling , am pretty sure I can be a racer on my throne.. er..chair. Life is filled with moments of sour lemons, jugaad and chocolate cake. But it always comes around to chocolate cake, with cherries of course. I am Leha, a writer and mostly a dreamer with a crazy imagination. On World Disability Day I am not here to talk about awareness or disabled rights, but about the simple things I learnt in my journey and the way it has transformed me. (On a lighter note it would be cool if my chair turned into a transformer.)
I can’t speak much about other conditions, but a spinal cord injury does make you relearn the most basic things in life such as taking a shower without losing balance, turning over in your bed, or dressing up without getting entangled in your own clothes. When I first sat on my wheelchair, I remember wondering how am going to maneuver this giant car when I couldn’t even sit up straight. There were a lot of crashes and maybe a hole or two in some walls, but I can waltz now. Isn’t that what matters?
During my school days, mum got me a huge umbrella like the one Mary Poppins uses. I just did not want to carry that to school even though it had a picture of Snoopy on it. After my spinal injury that became one of the most useful tools to reach out to things on the top shelf and also use it like Captain Hook’s hand ! Jugaad, I tell you. It’s everywhere.
There are a lot of things you have to forego after a spinal injury but there are a lot of things to gain as well. You may never feel the grainy beach sand on your feet again, but you can enjoy the sunset there. You may not be able to access places with stairs, but who says you need steps to reach to the stars? It may be a task to find workplaces that are not prejudiced, but who says talent needs a four walled cubicle?
I learnt that it’s ok to ask for help sometimes. We all need it.
If you love cats, then your lap becomes a forever cushion for the little critter. Mine always loved to snuggle and take rides on my chair. I got to be a super cool aunt to my nephew because of my chair. Do you know why? We like to go on death speed rides on cemented pavements, with our hands and legs flailing around. Yes, we scared the crows away. Yes, we got told off by my sister, yes, we’d do it again. (evil glint)
I remember my first time shopping all by myself. I could not get a shopping trolley so with packets of skittles, maggi and lots of other favourites on the sides of my chair, I looked like I am shoplifting. I ended up dropping everything and eventually asking for help.(which I do not like to do) I broke down at the parking lot wondering how I am ever going to survive this world if I cannot even grocery shop without hurdles. I learnt that it’s ok to ask for help sometimes. We all need it.
With bouts of nerve pain making surprise visits, and several other things testing my patience, capacity and even purpose in life, there are days when I feel I just can’t survive this. That’s when I remind myself that the show must go on, for what good is a show when the star is missing!
My spinal injury has made me come face to face with every fear I have ever had and I am grateful for that. I am thankful for the paths it has taken me on and the things I have understood, the people I have met, the opportunities I got. I also know now that everything falls in place just fine, if you stop fidgeting with the purpose this Universe has in store for you and trust the process. I am not a survivor. I am just a girl finding ways to look at the fuller part of the glass and embrace this gift called life.
I am unapologetically the way that I am.
About the Author
Leha Divakar is a Freelacing Editor and Writer based in Pune, India.
The International Day of People with Disability is held on December 3 every year. It is a UN recognized day, which is observed all throughout the world. World Disability Day aims at increasing public awareness, understanding and accepting people with disability and celebrating their achievements and contributions. (Source)