For 8-year-old Pinki Paramanik, it was an experience of a lifetime. The precious moments she spent with Prime Minister Narendra Modi will remain etched deep in her memory.
Pinki, who is orthopaedically challenged, along with two other physically challenged teens from Paradip area were privileged to receive assistive aids and appliances from the Prime Minister during the public function when Modi commissioned a oil refinery project on February 7.
As the standard III student from Koladia village near Paradip walked with crutch to the dais, there was a thunderous applause from the crowd that had thronged at the venue.
"Kaunsi kashya mein padhti ho? (in which class do you study) Agey jeevan mein kya banna chahti ho? (what is your future goal in life)" - the comforting words from the PM resound in her mind weeks after the little girl from Paradip had a firm handshake with Modi.
"I was awed by the occasion. I have never seen such a massive crowd. I could not comprehend what Modi uncle asked me. Those in the dais helped me and prodded me to reply. I told I will become a doctor. Modiji patted me on the back," Pinki recalled.
"My child is suffering from muscular disorder on lower limbs. She walks with crutches. Despite deformity, she is determined towards study. After the Prime Minister handed her over physiotherapy MSIED kit, she was excited. And the exposure has given her a sense of self-belief," Pradipta Paramanik (Pinki's father), said.
"I was told that my speech and hearing impaired daughter Nandini will be given hearing aid by the PM, a day before his visit to Paradip. Six hours before the function, we were brought to the meeting place. While I was extended hospitality in the guest enclosure, my daughter was taken to another spot for security reasons," said Niranjan Swain of Bhitargarh village.
"My 18-year-old daughter is a Higher Secondary student of the Arts stream in Paradip College. Neither she can speak nor hear. Modiji reassuringly told her whether she could hear after giving her the hearing aid. He was gracious and exchanged soothing words to make her feel comfortable. She signalled affirmatively.
"Disability has not deterred Nandini. She is studious. She idolises Ira Singhal, the physically challenged woman who cleared the civil services examination. Shaking hands with the Prime Minister has given her a sense of positivism," Swain said.
Apart from Pinki and Nandini, visually-impaired Santosh Rout (20) of Gandakipur near Paradip, who studies in BJP College, Bhubaneswar, also received an aid from the PM.
Modi had distributed appliances to the physically challenged children. The kits were provided to us by Engineers India Limited under the Corporate Social Responsibility programme, said Manager, Corporate communications, IOCL's Paradip Refinery, Sangram Mishra.