DAILY LIVING & MOBILITY

Life Is A Constant Challenge with Disabilities In India

Huafrid Billimoria

Changing Life's Challenges One Step At A Time

Dogged by learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia), ADHD (Attention Deficiency Hyperactive Disorder), depression, OCD and physical symptoms resulting from subsequent treatment, early childhood was not all rainbows and sunshine. I learnt to face bullies with humor, learning issues with unorthodox solutions.

As years passed by, the attitude of running away and acceptance of the inevitable has morphed into the ability to anticipate new hurdles and indeed look forward with resolve. I breezed through school, attended one of the best colleges, landed two high-profile jobs without having the ability to use a pencil or a pen. With a keyboard I can still knock it out of the park, whenever I can.

Having metamorphosized from a fat bullied kid into a fit man trained in Mixed Martial arts, despite dystonia, was the end of being bullied. My next Hurdle? The prospect of a long – term career, that one was sure to test my abilities to the fullest. I’ve had some of the most wonderful support during the fight back. There were these folks who didn’t hold my hand, but importantly showed me the way. When I look back I am amazed. All of them had successful careers but still took time out for me and my life. That’s who I want to be. Everything I went through lead to anxiety attacks and sleepless nights due to fear and depression, to which I am still on pills for the same and it is fine to accept it and grow out of it. I have reduced them and I am doing so well since I accepted what I have and what I face. Now I educate others how to be different and proud.

There are so many like me with their own set of challenges and my mission is to direct them like those who pointed out direction for me. As a result I desire a career which will give me the opportunity to do just that. Therefore, I am pursuing an MA in Social Work in Disability Studies and Action from TISS (Tata Institute of Social Studies, Mumbai). Despite my type of disability being recognized by the government, there are still so many glitches and anxieties one goes through to get acceptance. When I came around my parents didn’t know what hit them. Gradually we were educated about my condition. I was told I could not handle numbers like tables, wouldn’t be able to study from a main stream school, and wouldn’t be able to write (that being my major disability). Despite these hurdles, I graduated with distinction from one of the best schools in Mumbai (St. Mary’s ICSE). During the tenth standard board examinations, I wrote my own paper because I was scared about letting someone else write for me. When my body started shaking so much that I couldn’t drink water from a bottle, and even holding a pen to write became tougher.

Then I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder called Dystonia so I had to opt for a writer. Nevertheless I got distinction in my HSC. During this time my entire right side was affected with dystonia. I went to crack the JEE exams to get into the best Hotel Management college in India (IHM-Mumbai), passing with an overall 70%. From being ragged, bullied, told that I was useless, I have come a long way. While I still struggle with anxiety, insomnia, depression, I am not giving up. And in keeping with my belief I have a tattoo which says “Never Give Up”. I believe in conversations, not chats, in listening, not hearing, in getting it right, not achieving, in sticking, staying to the course, not digressing. I ALWAYS BELIEVE IN PLAN A, I’VE NEVER GIVEN MYSELF THE LUXURY OF A PLAN B.

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