“I feel I was born as a star. You know why? Because I have this joined thumb on my left hand – just like Hrithik Roshan,” 22-year-old Shivam Porwal says and joins in our laughter.
Shivam was born with just three fingers in his right hand and a joined thumb in his left hand. His legs were completely impaired, and he still walks on his knees.
“When I was born, most people told my parents to kill me immediately. People would come from far off places just to see me and would pity my parents. But I was a rebel right from the beginning. I would always take it as a challenge to do everything that normal kids did,” recalls Shivam.
His father was working at a paan shop with a salary of Rs. 100 per month.
“I was the first one in my school to write in cursive, which was kind of an achievement for a kid in Hindi medium. That’s when my father realised that only education could make me self-dependent. He left no stone unturned to do that. Imagine a person having no education, no money and not even a normal child, but still aspiring so big. He was a true hero in that sense,” says Shivam.
Though most of his teachers loved Shivam, other kids would make fun of him or tease him for his condition.
“There was only one washroom, which used to be dirty and wet all the time. We didn’t even know about kneecaps those days, and so I would walk bare-kneed. To avoid going to such a place I would hold for six hours straight and would use the washroom only when I came back home,” he explains.
But a turning point came when his father bought him a scooter – despite it being a huge financial burden.
“That was the first turning point of my life. You can’t imagine what the right assistance can do for a disabled person. It was the first time that no one had to pick me up and drop somewhere. It was the first time that I was going out all alone. It was the first time I could interact with people socially,” says Shivam.
Shivam had never failed to try something new, so he did. Impressed by his attitude, the coach began training him for the Para-Olympics.
“I am glad he did that because that changed my life completely. I saw people who were in worse condition than I was. They lacked what I had the most – hope.” he says.
Shivam took another path. He prepared hard for GATE and got into IIT Patna. He then took up an offer to work as a telecom officer for BSNL.
Today Shivam is a motivational speaker, a singer, a swimmer, a poet and he has also learnt to play the guitar recently.
“Someone once told my father that instead of wasting money on my education, he should ask me to sit in his paan shop. When he took me to a computer institute, he was told that I would never be able to type because of my fingers. There was a time when I tried to hide myself from the world. I thought I was ugly and useless. But today I am an IITian, a computer engineer, a programmer and enjoy my appearance on the stage. All that my father gave me was hope – hope to grow as much as I can and I want to become that hope for many others like me,” says Shivam.
In the end, here’s what Shivam wanted to say to everyone reading his story –
“I was brave enough to fight with the world. But the more dangerous fight is the fight with yourself and the key to win that fight is acceptance. Just accept yourself! If you don’t accept yourself then how can you expect the world to accept you? I can just say one thing, that ‘If I can, then You Can’. If it is possible for a disabled paan seller’s son to reach till here, then anything is possible!
Apna liya jo tune apne aap koTere sitaare yu hi chamak jayenge,Ban kar to dekh ummed kisi ke dil ki,Har savere tere raushan ho jayenge!”– Shivam Porwal