An inspiration on wheels

An inspiration on wheels

Cerebral palsy might have claimed a chunk of her life, but Kruti Beesam is far from feeling limited by her disability, observes Ambika Ananth .

“Disability should not cripple loveIt should not shatter hopeIt should not corrode faithIt should not eat away peaceIt should not destroy confidenceIt should not silence courage.”- Kruti Beesam
Despite great advancement in medical care and treatment, cerebral palsy (CP) remains a significant health problem in our country, and a much-neglected one at that. It is believed, by many, that people with cerebral palsy will have to suffer a poor quality of life, no matter what.

That very approach hampers and limits the options for those living with the ailment.As Kruti Beesam puts it, “Being disabled should not mean being disqualified from having access to every aspect of life.” This Hyderabad-based, 24-year-old girl with CP, is a source of inspiration for many. Kruti was born as one of the twins with the umbilical cord around the neck, resulting in birth asphyxia, which in turn, caused CP. After the diagnosis, when she was a three-month-old baby, the doctor advised physiotherapy for delayed milestones. When she turned four, she underwent hand surgeries, followed by rigorous physiotherapy.

 When she turned six, she was taken to the US by her mother, where a famous CP surgeon performed surgeries on her legs, again followed by months of physiotherapy. Then, when she turned eleven, Kruti underwent palm and wrist surgeries. 

It isn’t just the physical problems that Kruti has to deal with. Needless to say, cerebral palsy brings with it many psychological challenges. The deep stress, anxiety and anguish are, perhaps, best understood by those suffering from the ailment. But Kruti, with unwavering support from her family, has learnt to brave it all. “My mother is a strong supporting pillar; my twin sister - Shruti - is my best friend; and my father, my guiding force,” she says.

 While they acknowledge her limitations, they appreciate and encourage her abilities. During her school days, Kruti always won prizes and accolades in essay writing and slogan competitions. She was a topper in psychology and sociology at graduation level (she takes her exams with a scribe who writes for her); she had also secured the ‘highest attendance award’ in the final year. Recently, she won the ‘Naveena Mahila Award 2013-2014’ for being an inspiring woman, and now writes content for a website - Wittysparks - and also contributes articles to several English dailies (she types all by herself, using her functional fingers). 

Sadly, public etiquette is very low in India. Differently-abled people are stared at, or worse, mocked and jeered at. Though the ‘Persons With Disability Act’ demands disabled-friendly environment, it barely comes close in implementation. Public transport is not very conducive for regular commute, nor are the public toilets disabled-friendly. For her mobility, Kruti uses a wheel chair customised for her posture. “Last time when I went to cast my vote, I had to leave my wheelchair and had to depend on my mother’s help to climb up and reach the ballot booth. Worse still, when I wanted to join one particular college, I was shown the door by the apathetic college authorities, simply because ‘the elevator is meant for the staff, not for students’,” reveals Kruti, addressing the depressing state of affairs.  

But Kruti is a fighter. This time, when she had to vote, she met up with the local political authorities, appealing for ramp facility to be provided for easier access to the polling booths. Her relentless efforts have earned her the title of ‘Ramp Fighter’. She also managed to get a seat in a college with facilities to cater to her challenging needs. Kruti is now in the final year of Masters in Sociology and aspires to become an IAS officer. 

With her innate strength, potential to learn and sheer passion to achieve, Kruti has turned her disability into just another hurdle. The Persian mystic poet, Rumi, once said, “Wound is the place where the light enters you.” Kruti has certainly found that light.

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