“Disability is never a barrier to choose your dreams”- My Take by Vijay Manjunath
31-year-old Vijay Manjunath from Bengaluru is the founder of Karnataka Wheelchair Cricket Association. Vijay, who is currently working with a leading company in Bengaluru is a wheelchair user. He is also an ardent photographer.
Just like most people, my childhood was fun-filled with games and sports. I used to participate in most of the sports events at my school and was an all-rounder too. I aspired to excel in the field of sports. But fate had other plans for me.
When I was in class 7 attending my sports day event, I realised that I could not walk. I used to fall for every step that I took. After that day, the way I walked also started changing. So from class 7, I was a regular at hospitals. But no one could diagnose what was wrong. When I was doing my first PUC, I visited a doctor a prominent Bengaluru hospital who diagnosed with me muscular dystrophy.
Doctor told me that the condition was incurable. I was diagnosed in the year 2004. In 2019, there are still no medical improvements or better treatment for muscular dystrophy though experts are pointing out that it is under research process.
Life after disability
I noticed that things had started changing around me. At school, I used to participate in many dance shows. But I couldn’t do that anymore. I could not even stand without another person’s help. What hurt me the most is attitude of people around me, especially my peers. My friends realised that I walked slow. So they left me behind. They kept saying that they couldn’t handle someone who was very slow in walking. Soon, I went into depression. I reached a point where I wanted to end my life.
My mother always wanted me to become an engineer. So after school, I decided to pursue an engineering. I got admitted to BMS College in the year 2006 from where my life changed for the best.
Path to independence
The staffs and students at the college were extremely friendly. The campus was also accessible for me since I had started using a wheelchair. I used to travel over 40 kms every day to attend college. But that was OK for me. I loved travelling. But I needed someone to help me to use public transport since it was not accessible. I started doing regular physiotherapy.
After college, I decided to look out for a job. That was in the year 2012 when there was hardly any inclusion in companies. In fact, I remember how officials of some companies feared me joining them because they were not accessible. They clearly could not provide any facilities for a disabled person. So I started working with the Vindhya Infomedia, a company where there are many people with disabilities. My life took a turning from there.
I worked for over three to four companies. I even started my own web designing company. Recently, I joined a leading corporate company in Bengaluru and I’am looking forward to putting in my best performance here.
Tryst with wheelchair cricket
I started the organisation Karnataka Wheelchair Cricket Association in the year 2018. I took some time to convince the committee members that wheelchair users can also play cricket. Today, we have thirty players from various parts of the state. We are training them to bring out their best performances and bring laurels to India.
I always wanted to promote accessibility in public forums. So I thought why not start it with sports? Cricket is in the blood of every Indian. I hope the society and government will start noticing us now.
I love doing photography. It is something that interests me. I was working for my previous company when my boss noticed my photography skills. So she suggested me to click for all office events. Soon, I became the official photographer on wheels for all their office events.
I learnt photography by watching YouTube videos. I’am still learning.
“Disability is never a barrier to chase your dreams. Even if you are a disabled person, you don’t have to be depressed or upset over it. Life is all about moving on”.