The sky seemed to be her limit until a car accident paralysed her chest-down. But that didn’t let 19-year-old Pratishta Deveshwar from living her life to the fullest. Deveshwar, who is a student at Lady Shri Ram (LSR) today, heads the college’s Equal Opportunity Cell.
On the second day of the Feminist Adda panel of the summit Pratishtha Deveshwar enters the stage with a beaming, infectious smile and energy. She begins her talk by telling the audience about her accident and how she wants everyone present there to ‘think and feel’ like Pratishtha Deveshwar today. She mentions having no memory of the incident, but she remembers how she felt- “Waking up with a body half-paralysed, a heart completely broken.”
She further speaks about how a person should always come before their disability:
“Apathy, ignorance and indifference makes our society weak. Disability can happen to anyone; ignorance is not an option.”
“People with disability have been victimised and conditioned to fit into the stereotypes of the society.”
She emphasised on the need to end stigma around disability.
Next, she got down to what she does best- smashing stereotypes around disability, love and happiness:
1. People with disability are considered a burden to their family:
“I actually started feeling guilty for being alive. So, I kept a journal enlisting my abilities and focused on that instead. People point out what you can’t do instead of what you can. I live alone in Delhi, work and travel independently.”
2. To love or befriend a disabled person is an extraordinary ‘act of kindness’, a great achievement:
“True love and friendship transcends such boundaries”.
She also added that her friends and her partner, love and care for her for who she is and not because of her disability.
3. People with disability lead a gloomy and boring life:
“No, they don’t. They live their lives and enjoy every moment just like anyone else!”
4. People with disability are ugly:
“Lipstick and disability don’t go together! We have our moments of weaknesses, but we wear our scars like badges of honour. We look like any ordinary human being.”
She concluded her talk with a powerful message for everyone to take home:
“Next time don’t make assumptions, but acknowledge a person with disability as a human being first. No one needs sympathy. What we need is empathy, acceptance and cooperation. I hope next time when someone mentions disability you picture a happy face.”