Ngathingpei Khayi

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“I Love Wheels but God … Put Me on Wheel Chair”

Deepa Malik has registered her name thrice in Limca Book of Records and won many international medals for the country. Now she is going to prove her mettle in London Paralympics 2012, all these on a wheel chair. Society had a soulful and inspiring talk with the true champion.

Image“I love wheels but God misread my wish and he put me on wheel-chair.” Usually this is how a story ends but for Deepa Malik this is where it all started. Thirteen years back due to recurrent tumor in her spine she had to under go three major surgeries after which she couldn’t walk. “The condition of my body is like below chest it’s paralyze, no sensation and low blood circulation. There is no proper body temperature regulation in my body because of the spinal cord damage. My lungs can’t take full breathe, I have thyroid and my gall bladder has been taken out so I have digestion problem.” All these complications will surely blew up ones mind but the list is not over yet. “I don’t have bowl or bladder control so I have to be very careful with my water intake,” and she says it all with a smile as if it’s normal.

This is a story of a fighter who believes in taking on life as it comes. Deepa Malik has done so many things that even a normal person can’t think of doing in ones lifetime. She has won a silver medal in shot-put at International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championship in Christ Church 2011, three gold medals at Cerebral Palsy Sports 2010 in Nottingham, a bronze medal in Para Games 2010 in Guangzhou for javelin and silver in Far East and South Pacific Games 2006 in Kuala Lumpur. “My most satisfying achievement was winning the Asian medal. I won a bronze and it changes my life completely. I was suddenly in the elite group contributing in decision making and it gave me an identity,” says the winner. And not to forget her three Limca records, first for swimming against the flow for one kilometer in Yamuna river with such kind of disability in 2008. Second, driving a modified bike for 58 Km in 2009 and thirdly for being first paralytic women to reach the world highest motor able road in Khardug La in Ladakh in 2011.

“I took up all these challenges because there is a notion that if a person is on wheel chair then that person is not well. And also, I just want to show that differently able people can still live an interestingly life even in this kind of conditions.” Adding one interesting fact that can change our way of thinking, “Well you can see many people around with spectacles because they have weak eye sight. We have weak legs so we are on wheel chair.” According to this brave heart she is not going to stop here, “I am going to break more records and try to win more laurels, you need to be an achiever to be heard and to spread the message.”Image

Looking back to the day when she took control of her life. “Post paralysis I was just a regular house wife of an army man and mother of two growing daughter. Just to keep my self happy and busy I used to do MC in army parties. In one such party one lady was looking for me to make some changes in the script and the other one just replied, ‘it’s very easy to identify her. She is the one in wheel chair.’ There I decided that I won’t let the wheel chair to be my identity. Now people are confused what do call me, international swimmer, athlete, a car rallyst, a motor biker and what not. My identity has change I am no more physically challenge person.” Suddenly her legs started trembling, with a smile he holds it down, “it’s normal as I don’t have control over body chest below.”

This 42 years old lady with the will of iron thinks that there is a lot do be done for the differently able people. “People in this country still don’t know that there is something called Para Sports.” Remembering an incident that happened to her, “During Commonwealth Games Delhi, one Padmashree awardee journalist saw me in wheel chair and her reaction was, ‘lo India keh khiladi toh abhi seh injured ho gayeh! (Indian players are already injured before the games).’ After that my daughter had to do the needful explanation. That’s the degree to awareness to the Para sports in our country.” Giving another example, “even it was not an easy task to get my driving and rally license. I didn’t want to just pass Rs. 500 note and get my work done. It took me 19 months to get one. People should now understand that there are modified vehicles available for differently able people.” With sudden change in the tone to make things candid, “Still now there has been no award or recognitions for me by any body, I won’t mind if somebody goes and nominate me, as I can’t nominate myself.” She smiles but for sure it must have not been an easy going.

“I draw inspiration from everything that is positive around me. I have decided to look forward and not crib over anything. I believe in saying my glass is half full not half empty. The only disease that I let my body get infected is happiness.” Trying to set an example for the people who are like her, “I think people look at you the way you look at yourself. For me disability is just a state of mind, you could have no disability but disability in your thought. So it’s all mind over the body. After seeing me driving in the high mountain in extreme condition with B2 level of injury, I hope that differently able people will try to drive a car on a normal road for their day to day life activities.”

Leaving behind everything, now her eyes is all set to only one target and that is to represent the country in London Paralympics 2012. “I am going to participate in London Paralympics in F-53 wheel chair category. And for this category we have javelin throw event only. Very soon we are going for qualifying rounds, I am glad that out 17 people who are going I am the only women.” She realizes that it might be a new term for many, “Paralympics is an event which happens just after the normal Olympics for differently able people at the same venue with same magnanimity.”

The only way to sum up this gutsy woman is in her own elder daughter Devika’s word, “It great to have a super star at home.” Rather she is a super nova!!

(Published in Society June ’13, Page No. 80)

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