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Tough, but not impossible. - Guest columnist Karthik Chandrashekhar talks about his journey overcoming disability

The guest column this week is by Karthik Chandrashekhar, a student in Chennai, who talks about the key influences in his life and his dreams of building an inclusive world.

I am a person with cerebral palsy and am a quadriplegic. I have always wanted to do things just like others and want to be treated just like anyone else. But when I started going out people would look at me like I was an alien from outer space, stare at me and give me pitying comments. I got used it and nowadays people are far better.

I completed my schooling in Vidya Sagar and Lady Andal and went on to study further at Loyola College and Madras University.

I was quite confident of getting a job easily but that did not happen. I was rejected by many companies as they said my typing speed was slow for jobs that involved writing. I tried other jobs but was told my speech was not clear. I did not give up and started my own library at home. It's closed now but that experience gave me a lot of confidence. Finally, I got a job at Standard Chartered after five years of toil.

It's been five years since I joined here and I still want to do something different to create awareness about persons with disabilities. We just want empathy, not sympathy. I just want people to enjoy life and keep smiling and keep doing something because an idle mind is a devil's workshop.

Big moments

My memorable moments include meeting Sachin Tendulkar sir and playing chess with Vishwanathan Anand sir in three friendly matches. My only wish is to meet Ajith sir, the Tamil actor. I want to inspire more people and give them hope and confidence. I am always sad when I see people ending lives for small things. You have got to love yourself first, that's the most important thing.

Again, when it comes to marriage, I have faced many rejections but I still keep trying. Marriage is a tricky and tough issue to deal with as it involves many people and convincing them is very tough. If I want to marry a person with a disability, there are worries about how we will manage alone. If it's a person without a disability, parents say no because it's a never-ending battle. I understand it's very tough but not impossible. Everything in life is risky but some people don't seem to understand that when I have overcome more difficult situations I will be able to overcome this too.

My mom and my friends are my pillars of strength and hope and I want to see places that are accessible and disabled-friendly. If all places are accessible and people are with us we will never feel our disability. If these things are not available, then disability becomes an issue and makes us dependent on others. Ultimately we should enjoy our life and do the things we love to do. Every problem in this world has a solution.



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