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Be shaped by your inner conversations - My Take by Bhupendra Tripathi, central banker who battled paralysis, cancer & vision loss

Bhupendra Tripathi was all set to take on a new project in Finland for his company when life threw him a curveball. He suffered a paralytic attack, was diagnosed with cancer, and later suffered vision loss. In My Take, he tells us how he fought these challenges to become a successful banker.

I was always very good at academics because I had a passion for learning. Believe it or not, when I was in school, I used to be in dilemma when anyone asked me about my favorite subject because I loved all of them! I was very lucky to get home schooled during kindergarten, with my mom as my first teacher! It laid the foundation stone of my consistent outstanding academic track-record.

Thanks to my mother's teaching style, I understood quite early that "each subject" and within that "each chapter" and within that "each paragraph" and within that "each sentence/word" exist to give us some bytes of information and the onus is on us not to miss any byte! This "yearning for learning everything that comes my way" helped me score 100/100 in science in my class 10 CBSE board exam.

Turning point

Later, in class 12th CBSE Exam, I topped Gujarat state. This trend continued in college as well. While studying engineering in Information Technology branch, I secured merit rank. Then in my first job, at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), I won several awards. I was all set to go to Finland when I received a big jolt.

My life started spinning uncontrollably out of axis as my health went on a downward spiral of cancer and paralysis. I was diagnosed with the last stage of a rare aggressive variant of cancer called Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. It had spread to my entire spine, with traces of tumors in my liver, intestines, bladder and pancreas. Even before the diagnosis, I had been getting abnormal sensations starting from my feet.

What used to bother me most was my notion that I would not be able to serve my lovely parents in their silver days when they needed me. My mom sensed this, began pepping me up and, thus was a great source of support. She told me to resign from TCS and fully concentrate on my healing. I am glad I listened as this was a battle that needed my full focus.

A new challenge

After 12 months of intensive treatment, I was declared cancer-free. There were celebrations, but little did we know that another challenge loomed ahead. I was told that due to optic nerve atrophy and other complications, I would lose my complete eyesight in a matter of weeks.

Crestfallen, my first reaction was of despair. I told my physiotherapist, Dr Alap Gadhvi, to discontinue his sessions as there was little point in getting up from the wheelchair and walking when the world around me was going to be in darkness. He tried to motivate me, but I was not in a position to listen. Finally, he introduced me to his father Kailash Gadhvi, who had lost his sight in childhood. He virtually adopted me and within five months, he taught me the Braille script for Hindi, English, Gujarati and Mathematics.

I was also trained in classical music by him. Soon, a new world of possibilities opened up to me. I immersed myself in learning Screen-reader and Voice over technologies which enabled me to operate computer/ smart phones independently for the preparations of various competitions including UPSC Civil Services Exam.

My diligence paid off as I cracked multiple banking examinations in the very first attempt. In the second innings of my career, in the Reserve Bank of India, like in the previous stint, I have resumed getting performance awards and setting new milestones. For instance, in three years, I achieved three professional certifications from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Indian Institute of Banking & Finance (IIBF). In my new avatar, neither the looks nor the dress of people matters to me. More important to me is whether the person is wearing a smile or not. Trust me, I can make that out! I now give 100% of my "being", to the person, place or situation before me. And it is sometimes difficult for others to cope with that as they are not able to reciprocate in the same manner.

Setting new priorities

After my visual impairment, I have set clearer priorities. When I am travelling, it is not the destinations that make my trip memorable, rather it is the caring attitude of people around me. I no longer want to cover as many tourist spots as possible. I would instead choose Experiential places like trekking, rafting, camping etc. which would appeal to my non-visual senses.

Having been at the receiving end of insensitive remarks, I have become more careful about sharing jokes and stories that stereotypes people. My core nature, though, remains the same. I don't think of myself as disabled at all because everyone is dependent on someone, either physically, emotionally or financially. 100% Independence is a big myth. The biggest blessing of me getting this brand-new life is that I have found the purpose of my life, which is to always work towards removing the inner darkness from people's hearts.

My message to visually challenged friends: Break barriers and live life on your own terms. You can achieve anything if you invest in three powerful tools - Belief, Discipline and Enthusiasm. Believe in yourself and believe in the Universe. Don't brood about what you are unable to do, look beyond.

True happiness does not reside in the outer world, rather it chooses to sneak in the inner apartment called heart! So, relax and rejoice as you are not missing out on anything extraordinary! And yes, most importantly tell yourself every day that you are not going to be shaped by external circumstances, but by your inner conversations. So be your own best friend and give big smile to yourself all the time, no matter what!

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