Misfortunes cannot curb his indomitable spirit

Misfortunes cannot curb his indomitable spirit

Escaping a near-death experience after his fighter plane a crash landed in August 1994, Group Captain (Retd) Prabal Malaker survived the accident but not its repercussions. “I escaped without a scratch though the aircraft had caught fire. But little did I realise that the injuries were within. The symptoms of the disease started to manifest itself in March 1995 when I found that my leg started to drag after about 2-3 kms of walking.” 

Three years later Prabal was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an auto-immune disease in which the body attacks its own cells and tissues. At 57, Prabal is the Honorary Secretary of Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (Delhi Chapter), and spreads awareness about his life-changing medical condition. 

Brooding over the past, he says, “At that time there was no literature available on this disease and the internet was in its infancy. So, I was ignorant about its consequences and as they say ‘Ignorance is bliss’, so it was. I took each day at a time and was not perturbed. But my wife Renuka was devastated as she had seen a distant relative, suffering from MS, in a wheelchair.” Given that  his family, especially his wife, has been his rock, he speculates, “I wonder if she had been afflicted with this disease would I have been able to take as good care of her as she does of me?”

Fighting with an indomitable spirit, Prabal sheds light on the availability of medical assistance, “Presently, all big cities are fairly well-equipped to diagnose and treat MS to the extent of controlling the symptoms, as there is no cure. However, it is an expensive disease to manage as the drugs being low in volume result in high costs. The management of the disease is more effective on early diagnosis.”

Undeterred by his disability, he leads an exemplary life and is a source of inspiration for around 1.50 lakh known patients of MS in India. Being wheelchair-bound does not stop him from leading an active lifestyle. “I usually go for swimming five days a week and, whenever possible, I find time for doing stationary cycling.” 

His love affair with the pellucid blue skies keeps his spirits flying high, “I love to travel, see new places and meet new people. My present condition presents logistical and physical problems in carrying out carefree travel. But I keep on studying the accessibility of places and coordinate with friends for support.” 

When asked, how accessible our Capital is for those with physical disabilities, he rues, “You have this ludicrous situation of bus stands for handicaps on high platforms! These are inaccessible due to the absence of a ramp to get on the pavement on which the bus stand is located. This is the situation in Delhi where  easy accessibility for the physically challenged was a condition for the hosting of the 2010 CWG.” 

“Everybody has some sort of a problem, some trivial and some life changing. My advice is to accept your problem, find a way to deal with it and don’t blame God or others for it. Live life a day at a time and live it to the fullest to the extent possible,” is his advice to all.

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