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Just few days back when my nine year old boy came and asked me “ what is self belief mumma”, I fumbled. Not because I did’t know what is self belief, but because I was not finding an apt example to give my son, which he could relate to. After trying with some anecdotes here and there, I told my husband, why do we always have to dig our past to talk about grit, determination and self belief.. Why we fall back on our Independence saga to teach our generation. Well, I was wrong, and you proved me wrong. Indeed very very wrong ! Just when I was hassled in my belief, you raised your hand high up and waved “ I AM AN INSPIRATION” !! Mariyappan Thangavelu, you picked up Gold Medal in Rio Para Olympics. But, you actually picked up many of us from the dearth of hopelessness. It was high jump and undoubtly the highest considering all the odds. Mariyappan you made history, but more than this, you have made a loud statement that self belief, dedication and perseverance can make one do the impossible and unthinkable…You did it... You are incredible !!!
In my recent visit to few overseas countries, there was one thing that caught my eyes repeatedly. It is the facilities and infrastructure that was in place for the differently-abled people. Whether it is bus stop, pavements, shopping centers, rail stations or airports, you just have everything in place of them, right in the most accessible and dignified way possible. Cut to India, there is hardly anything in place. The infrastructure in several places is just so minimalistic for common man, that for people like Mariyappan who need extra care, it would have been an uphill task to pass the steep terrains of difficulty and reach where he has reached today. Again, a big shout for Satyanarayana, his coach who could spot the talent in this special child, and nurtured him to bring out the best in him.
Mariyappan’s success also brings us to the crucial role that parents play in a child’s life. This young boy lost his leg after a bus accident at the age of five. His father abandoned the family. But it was Saroja, his mother who relentlessly fought with all odds to give her boy the much needed belief that he can do it. With stressed financial condition and a court battle with TamilNadu State Transport Corporation dangling from past one decade, Saroja didn’t lose focus and did everything possible to give her boy a chance to live his life to the fullest amidst all ills. If it was High Jump for the boy, it was probably the highest for his mother Saroja, in every possible sense.
Few days back about I wrote about Reshma Qureshi, an acid attack survivor, who walked the ramp in NY Fashion Week. I salute her. And today, it was Mariyappan Thangavelu who stole the show. Well, my heart goes out for each and every para-Olympian who dared to think and live their life defying all odds. Not to forget Bhati who clinched bronze in High Jump. We probably have everything to learn and imbibe from them.
While I always thought we lacked people who can inspire our kids, I am proven wrong. And, today I stand hands down and say, “ I am happiest to be proven wrong.” We do have people like Mariyappan and likes of him who can teach not only our kids, but all of us that disability is in our minds and not in our body. We can, if we think we can !! Hearty Congratulations Mariyappan- enjoy your success that is wrapped in self belief !! You are an inspiration and an eye opener for this entire nation. Let many more be there for all the participants....Proud...sheer Proud !!