“If you can win over yourself, you can win over anything and anyone. Turn every challenge into an opportunity to succeed and do not forget to be optimistic,” Vadodara-based Shivam Solanki, who lost both his hands and one leg in an accident, tells The Better India.
Exceeding everyone’s expectations, the self-reliant boy scored 92.33 percentile in the recently declared results of Gujarat’s Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board.
Since 17 May, Shivam has been in the news for shattering myths associated with the disabled and for being an inspiration to thousands of people who lose their will power after tragic accidents.
“I will not let my disability define me. My parents and teachers have taught me that there are no limitations unless I set them. Throughout the year, I religiously studied for 4-5 hours every day,” says Shivam.
Losing Some, Winning Many
Shivam’s parents are fourth-class employees at the Vadodara Municipal Corporation. He was merely nine in 2011 when his life came to standstill.
It was the Kite Festival, and like every other boy in Gujarat, Shivam too was excited to fly kites on his building’s terrace. He spotted a kite on an adjacent tree, and tried to catch it, but little did he realise that a live wire was entangled with the tree.
“I came in contact with the live wire and was electrocuted in a few seconds. I lost both my hands, five toes of one leg, and another leg below the knee. I stayed in the hospital for nearly three months until I could walk with an artificial leg,” shares Shivam.
Fortunately, he was promoted to the seventh grade as his marks in the sixth grade were above 90 per cent. However, the school refused to take him back, “They did not want to tarnish their image by keeping me. They suggested that I clear my tenth privately.”
The accident, coupled with people’s attitudes around him, devastated the young boy. Seeing children of his age continue with their lives while he remained confined at home was not easy.
Unable to see her child give up the will to pursue his studies, Shivam’s mother, Hansaben, stepped up. Like every Indian mother, she too came up with a jugaad to help her son write again.
She covered Shivam’s elbow with a sock and pierced a hole small enough to fit a pen. Hansaben then ordered him to use that contraption to draw or write on a wall.
That was the beginning of Shivam’s new life.
Meanwhile, his parents enrolled him in private tuitions at home. After a year of practice, Shivam regained control over his writing.
“I never had to force Shivam to study. He was always keen on scoring high marks and making his future. So, as a mother, it was my duty to remind him of his passion, and of course, arrange for a little jugaad,” Hansaben tells The Better India.
Shivam cleared class ten with 87 per cent marks. Impressed by his zeal, a private school gave him admission in the eleventh grade.
“The school teachers helped and supported me throughout the 12th grade. They even offered to send a scribe for my 12th boards, but I refused as I had aced my writing speed,” he says.
‘I Want To Serve People’
The frequent hospital visits after the incident inspired Shivam to pursue MBBS. He saw how doctors worked round the clock to care for their patients.
“It is the noblest profession where you get a chance to serve people. I too wish to become a doctor and provide my patients with the best quality of medical care,” says Shivam. Remarkably, he has already started preparing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).
Alternatively, he wishes to become an IAS officer, “My primary goal is to serve people. So, bureaucracy is another option that I have kept open.”
Shivam’s journey has been full of ups and downs, but his determination of moving past his accident and working towards a brighter future is what defines him.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
Images Courtesy: Shivam Solanki