Deepa - An Enabled Soul

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


 

Deborah number in the field of rheology, which deals with the study of deformation and flow of matter, is a number that characterises the fluidity of the material. Higher the number means more solid, and lower the number means more fluid. The term was coined by an Israeli Scientist, who was inspired by the song of Prophetess Deborah from the Bible. Deborah is the only female judge to be mentioned in the Bible. Biblical judges were the people who served the roles of military leaders in times of crisis. So, moving from rheology to theology, Deborah’s song in the Bible reads, ‘The Mountains flowed before the Lord’. The line means that God has witnessed the terrains being formed, the valleys being carved and even the mountains being moved. Though the line describes eternalness and the infinite wisdom of the immortal, in modern age it's a suitable metaphor for people who go beyond their physical limits, pushing the boundaries, breaking the stereotypes and strengthening their soul by redefining the norms of human spirits. This is the story of a woman, whose body was paralysed, but not her soul, first ever woman to win a medal in Paralympics for India, a true inspiration, Deepa Malik.  

 

Disability in the plain sight is absence of an organ or impairment in functions of one's body or mind. That being accepted on paper or by few, many think of it as something which may seem very apparent to others, but is a Divine strength on its own that is gifted to those who try and wish to make it not apparent. Though the disability becomes part of life and may take the centre stage initially, that person tries to derail it and let it not become their defining factor. More often than not, a person on a wheelchair, tries to erase the chair from the viewer's perspective. In those, few not just succeed, but they place things for others in perspective. One such example is Deepa Malik, born on 30 September 1970 in Haryana, India. Deepa at the age of 5 due to a tumour in her Spinal cord, couldn’t walk for 3 years. After physiotherapy and rehab, she could walk again. With her family having an army background, Deepa married an Army officer, Bikram Singh and their love for each other was mainly catalysed for their mutual interest in bikes and rides. In the year 1999, while raising two children, the tumour returned on the Spinal cord of Deepa Malika and was hospitalised, while her husband was out on the border fighting Kargil War. Times were testing for Deepa, as she was given a very faint chance of survival and even if survived, she was told that she would be paralysed. After nearly 18 months in the hospital, various surgeries, around 200 stitches, Deepa Malik survived, leaving her lower body (below chest) paralysed. During those times, amidst fighting for her life, Deepa had to face questions raised by society about her being a burden for the rest of her life, creating economic imbalances in the family, who would raise the 2 young girls?, and many such. Deepa had to not just answer them, but also conquer them. 

Deepa thus began her conquest at the age of 36, as she decided to step into the world of sports. Starting off with swimming, Deepa went to Indian spinal injuries Centre in Delhi. It was a rehab program for 6 months, where she was trained and made to exercise under water. For the first time, when she participated in the Berlin Championship, Deepa came 10th and on her return, she had to hear comments that she only went there as a trip on government expenses. Disappointed she didn't return home and continued with 4 more months of training and was certified to swim in Yamuna, after completing her couch’s condition of staying in the water for over 90 minutes. Now she holds a world record in open river swimming for swimming across the Yamuna River for 1 km against the current. Later on inspection by the medical team, it was inferred that she couldn’t swim in Berlin due to its Cold climatic condition. Deepa then moved to Javelin and Shot put. For this she had to spend a lot of time in the gym, with the warm-up itself taking nearly an hour and half or a couple of hours. All the hard work paid off when Deepa became the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic Medal across any sport. In Javelin, Deepa is the only Indian woman to win medals in 3 consecutive Asian Para Games (2010, 2014, 2018). She has created history by becoming the first ever Indian female Para athlete to win an Asian Games medal in athletics as well as the first ever female World Championship medal. She had the honour of being the part of the grid and national anthem ceremony at the flag-off of the Formula 1 race at Buddh international circuit, 2013. With many such honours and awards, she holds four Limca World Records in the adventure category. 

Sport is a field that takes a great physical and mental toll, hampering one's longevity and commitment. The age, Deepa Malik entered the sports arena, is usually the age where many Sports person puts the hammer down and retires. But Deepa Malik, despite the barriers, went onto etch her in the history books. In her one words, she says that when the National Anthem is played, she cannot stand up. But when she wins a medal for 130 Crore Indians, there is no need for her to stand up, as the National anthem will play and even the tricolour will fly high. Deepa received Arjuna Awards in 2012, at the age of 42. She was conferred with Padma Shri in 2017. But of all, she felt most satisfied last year, when she was granted Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, with which she realised not only all she had achieved, but had conquered her mission: Ability beyond Disability. Answering and diffusing all the social stigmas, Deepa Malik didn’t want to be seen by her daughters as some weak, bored person on a wheelchair who is a burden on others, but as a person who has recognised her ability and strength, and to further work on those. Those words and thoughts of Deepa milk, resounds with those of Stephen Hawking. 

Even my professor who taught me Algebra was on a wheelchair. Such a wonderful human, and with just taking his initials, APJ sir taught in a way, that just has had an impact on me, so much so that, confined to his wheelchair, he might not be able to stand again, but the reason I’m able to stand on my own feet today or in the future, credit goes to him. So, in a way he enabled me with confidence, knowledge and positivity. Deepa Malik currently through the NGO founded by her, ‘Wheeling happiness Foundation’, works on enhancing emotional health of people with challenges  and empowering women with outdoor sports and adventures. The foundation even takes care of providing school education for long kids with financial challenges. She has even helped physically challenged persons to learn driving, so as to be more self-reliant. The foundation even provides sporting equipment and prosthetic legs for the ones in need. With many such activities Deepa Malik, continues to thrive in moving our nation for a better tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

References: WIki, Deepa Malik, KBC S11 E40. 

 


Submitted: October 23, 2020

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