How many of you wake up in the morning feeling grateful that yesterday was ‘normal’? That today would also pass following the flow of routine life? These are some tough answers to few simple questions.
The human mind is an expandable and all-including beauty – its patience and adaptability to change increase the more it goes through. Take my journey for example – I am Bidyut Kr. Dey, 65-years old and I live around the corner of the nostalgia-sprinkled lanes of North Calcutta. My heart lies with my family - the missus, two sons and three cats. Seems like an everyday story, does it not? Well, it was…until a certain day of 1968. The soul of my happy existence was unsettled in a moment’s notice.
An approaching tram and a carefree 14-year old running cheerfully on the streets; my left leg was severed from the rest of me. Before my parents and I could recover from the pain and trauma, taunts and mockery from friends and relatives came home. I was the only child; I found myself choking below the weight of a future full of duties and to a be-undertaken set of responsibilities.
Now let’s leave these all behind and fast-forward to 3rd December 2003, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Delhi. I was ‘standing tall’ in front of Former President of India Mr APJ Abdul Kalam. India was celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – I was recognised to be conferred the National Award – for being a role model: for pulling myself up from the crater I was in but not stopping when I reached ground-level, rather building on top of that to contribute towards social needs. I have been felicitated with many awards since, and they have only increased my will to go all the distance.
However, the path has been no cake walk! From participating as an active volunteer with All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health for a comparative study between the physical strength of an amputee vis-à-vis a normal person to trekking along multiple expeditions - I never let anything, let alone my ‘disability’ to be a setback. The former had me climbing flights of stairs on an artificial limb with a sack of stones tied to my back; the latter had an adventurous me heading to the heights of Buxar and Susunia Hill, depths of Purulia and the highs of the holy Gangotri.
The year 1999 saw my life taking yet another turn – for the better. I met the former captain of the Indian National Cricket team, Mr Ajit Wadekar. I always had a keen interest in the sport; the Samaritan encouraged me to take this further. I took charge of organising matches for All India Cricket Association for Physically Challenged (AICAPC) and eventually managed the entire Eastern zone.
Despite the difficulties, I must say life has been kind to me. I stepped up and opened my own organisation – Bidhan Sarani Integrated Disabled Welfare Society (BSIDWS) in 2010. The sole mission is to provide socio-economic rehabilitation to disabled people. Also, many times information – rights, legal support, etc. which is intended for disabled people do not reach them; BSIDWS works to close this information gap. I also associate myself with various NGOs and orphanages. Society’s mentality is partial towards disability; standing today, I see acute lack of disability-friendly facilities at public places. Marriages are stalled because of disabled family members. All these to what end?
In life, I have always believed in one saying - “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Society and its bias never have and never will be able to slow me down. I will ensure that my future is as dynamic as the present. My cricket team will play one day at the international level; a separate training institution would be in place for them; all physically challenged fellows would be self-dependent individuals; the term ‘handicapped’ would one day only refer to those who are restricted by their poor thoughts and mentality; the world be an even more beautiful place to live in.