Overcoming handicaps

Overcoming handicaps

"One may be beset by most grievous handicaps in life, but it is always possible to rise above one's handicap," writes Maulana Wahiduddin Khan.

A dancer from South India, Sudha Chandran, was only sixteen years old when she broke her right leg in an accident on May 2, 1981.

She was immediately taken to a local hospital. Without taking neces­sary preliminary precautions, such as cleaning her wound and ad­ministering anti-tetanus injections, the doctors put her leg in plaster from thigh to toe. As the pain increased, her parents shifted her to a hospital in Madras. When the plaster was stripped off, it transpired that her leg had begun to blacken: a clear indication that infection had reached the bone and gangrene had set in. The doctors did all that they could, but her leg could not be saved. On June 6, 1981, it was am­putated three inches below the knee.

Sudha’s unbounded love for dancing had not abated. “I want to dance,” she used to cry in anguish. “Will I ever dance again?”

She was fitted with a modern artificial leg, known as the “Jaipur foot”. The inventor of this foot, Dr. P.K. Sethi, happened to meet Sudha’s teacher, who told the doctor of his pupil’s ardent and undying passion for dancing. The doctor replied: “Sudha would be able to dance like anyone with normal limbs. Only one would have to be tough to put in the extra effort and bear initial pain.”

When Sudha learnt of this, she immediately readied herself for the initial pain. She resumed her pursuit in earnest, and by putting in extra effort, she once again perfected her act. Her first post-accident performance was in Bombay on April 1, 1984. Dance critics, who had seen her perform before the amputation, said that she was dancing better now than before, and that it was difficult to tell which leg was artificial.

One may be beset by most grievous handicaps in life, but it is always possible to rise above one’s handicap, as Sudha Chandran did, and emulate or even surpass the success of others. One must be ready, however, to endure some “initial pain”; one must be willing to put in some “extra effort” to achieve one’s goal.


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