The incredibly gifted Piyush Sharma defies all stereotypes regarding disability
Singer. Guitarist. Flautist. Table tennis champion. Take your pick to define Piyush Sharma because he excels at all four.
-Being on a wheelchair is not stopping 25-year-old Piyush Sharma from chasing any of his passions. From Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, Sharma suffered a spinal cord injury during birth which affected his ability to walk until he was 14 years old. From that point on, he started using a wheelchair. A software engineer with a leading multi-national in Bengaluru, this young man keeps himself busy juggling work and many interests.
Sharma's early years were hard given he could not move around Shimla easily on his wheelchair given its rocky terrain. Most places were therefore hard to access, but that did not stop him from seeking out the local metal and rock music scene. Having been introduced to music at a young age, Sharma was hooked and keen to learn more.
Rock and metal music was at its peak and very popular during that time. Even when I was in school, I used to go for a lot of music concerts in my town using crutches. It was very challenging because Shimla is a hilly place. But since I was passionate about music, I never let these challenges come my way. I used to sit in a corner during concerts since I could not move around. That is when I decided that I should be going out there and playing instead of sitting in a corner. I started getting my music lessons very soon. - Piyush Sharma
Soon, Sharma was an active member of many bands and not only was he a good vocalist, he was great with the guitar and flute too. Since going for guitar classes was difficult, he learned it online and from friends. He was soon a regular presence at college festivals and concerts.
"What amused me the most was that the audience used to stare at me when I entered the stage on a wheelchair or with crutches. I understand that it might be a new sight to them watching a disabled person perform. But it is high time that people start looking at a disabled person beyond their disability. I am on stage to perform because I have talent and not because I have a disability. I do not want people to appreciate my skills just because I have a disability", says Sharma.
Sharma has performed on stage on more than 10 occasions and he is passionate about music, he finds time in his busy schedule. "Music gives me freedom. It makes me feel great. No matter how busy I am, I would never keep it aside", he says.
Sharma was first introduced to table tennis by a college mate at the National Institute of Technology (NIT). He took it up professionally when he moved to Bengaluru four years back. Soon, he got a customised racket and wheelchair to play the game.
"When I was a kid, I used to feel sad when I saw other children play. Now, I am glad that I follow a sport. I represented my state Himachal Pradesh at the national games last year and it was a great experience".
Shivaprasad S, vice-captain of Indian wheelchair cricket team knows Sharma well. He is the founder of the Divyaang Myithri Sports Academy in Bengaluru where Sharma is manager.
"We came to know each other after he reached out to us when he came to Bengaluru. He has great communication skills and that is what I noticed about him first. He is very passionate about both music and sports. It has been a great experience to work with him", says Shiv.
Sharma has big plans in the future, the chief one being to form an exclusive band of wheelchair musicians.