“Make an effort to begin, rest everything falls in place”- My Take by Piyush Sharma
In My Take this week we have Piyush Sharma, a musician and para sportsman based in Bengaluru.
I had spinal cord damage during birth that left me disabled. In fact, I couldn't walk until the age of 14 years. I was carried around by my parents until I started using a wheelchair which literally gave me wings to fly. As a kid, I used to feel bad when I see other children around me play and have a good time. I never thought I would be able to excel in sports. I'am glad that I broke barriers to follow my passion, be it music or sports.
My family, that consists of my father, mother and sister, are my biggest pillars of strength and support. My parents have always stood by my side and helped me follow my dreams. Today, I live alone independently in Bengaluru all because of the support from my parents.
Tryst with music
My hometown Shimla is known for its heavy metal and rock music scene. There are many young bands in town. So I grew up watching them play some mind-blowing music. That is how I started developing an interest towards music. But Shimla is a very inaccessible place due to its hilly terrains and slopes. So it was quite hard for me to go for concerts. But I still managed to.
It is high time that people who organize concerts provide exclusive spaces for people with disabilities so that they can also enjoy it thoroughly. I go for concerts using my crutches and always sat in a corner due to lack of accessibility. Organizers should have a space in the centre, maybe something like a console. That way, concerts can be more inclusive. I have attended numerous concerts till date. Till date, I have not witnessed any concerts that are disabled friendly
Once I started attending concerts, I became an integral part of the music scene. I made many new musician friends as well. I knew I wanted to study music in-depth. But due to inaccessibility of the town, I couldn't go for classes. So I started taking online tutorials to learn guitar and flute.
Music gave me freedom. It helped me to learn a lot of new things. I have performed for over ten concerts. It amuses me to see how people stare at me when I enter the stage to perform. I understand that they might not have seen a wheelchair musician. But I want people to appreciate and look at my music beyond my disability.
I was attending the Bengaluru Open Air concert a couple of weeks back. I have been attending it for the past three years and it is a great feeling to be a part of it. Metal bands from across the world come to perform at the concert. A Nepal based band Krur was performing when it started to rain. Everyone ran towards the sheds except for a few of us who were still enjoying the concert. All of us were head banging and having a great time. I met a guy from Kerala who asked me whether I wanted to go to the front. I nodded a yes. He came with his friends and they carried me on my wheelchair while all of us were head banging under the rain listening to the concert. It was a great feeling!
I was carried on my wheelchair for over 15 minutes. The video and pictures of that incident went viral. People from across the globe try to connect to me on social media after seeing that. What makes me happier is that a lot of disabled people got in touch with me and told me that I inspire them a lot.
I faced many challenges on my path to pursue music. But that never really bothered me because I knew music was my true passion and I had to follow it.
Apart from being a national Table Tennis player, I play wheelchair cricket and basketball as well. I also manage activities of Divyang Myithri Sports Academy in Bengaluru.
I started playing table tennis when I was in college at National Institute of Technology (NIT). Once, I was trying it out when a senior college champion came up to me and asked me if I was interested in the game. He said that I must pursue it because I am doing it well. That was my first tryst with the game. I represented my state Himachal Pradesh for the nationals. I'am looking forward to more championships not just in Table Tennis, but other sports as well.
In India, there is very less infrastructure for para sports. In fact, we have a long way to go.
I feel that a disability must never come as a roadblock to chase your dreams. Make an effort to begin what you love, rest everything falls in place.