Nitin Prabhakar Sirmokadam is determined to follow his dreams despite being visually disabled. His mother’s love and efforts have enabled him to get this far.
He greets you cheerfully as soon as you reach the State Bank of India’s Chandrapur branch. His eyes keep wandering around but his mind has already grasped the complete details of the documents and forms you have asked for. Nitin Prabhakar Sirmokadam serves his responsibility as the Asst. Cashier of the Shastri Nagar, Chadrapur SBI branch to the fullest, even though he is visually challenged.
Nitin was not always meant to be a banker. In fact, he did not want to become one.
The only son of a father who was a professor of maths and a mother who was a scholar in history, he was a bright child right from the beginning. After doing mechanical engineering from Chandrapur in 1997, he finished his post graduation in piping and design engineering from MIT, Pune.
Nitin worked with R.M Page Consultants and Jacob HNG in Mumbai as a Senior Design Engineer from 1999 to 2004. During this time he travelled almost all over India. He headed the design team at Jacob and helped design Japan’s biggest refinery for Mitsubishi.
Nitin was climbing the ladder of success faster than any of his batchmates. But in December 2004, while sitting in his chamber working on an important project, he got a call from his mother saying his father was in the hospital. Nitin rushed back immediately but soon lost his father to a heart attack. Soon after the cremation ceremony, Nitin began to feel a little feverish. He did not say anything to anyone though. On the third day after his father’s demise, Nitin’s aunt, a doctor, found him sitting in a corner and muttering to himself. She examined him and realized he was running a high fever.
He was immediately rushed to the hospital where the doctors told the family that Nitin was suffering from Cerebral Typhoid Menangitis; pus had formed in a few nerves in his brain.
He went through a brain operation and was kept in the ICU for about a month and a half. But the disease left the bright young man with no vision in his eyes. Nitin was blind now at the age of 28!
He was in the hospital for another three months and kept entirely on a liquid diet. This made him almost immobile due to weakness. However, Nitin’s mother never gave up hope. She took care of Nitin as she had when he was born. After months of physiotherapy, Nitin was able to walk with the help of a walker by the end of the year 2005. A never-ending stream of visits to doctors started now. Mrs. Sirmokadam took her son to every possible specialist in Maharashtra, only to hear that there was no cure for his disease as yet.
Nitin had to take a call now as to how he was going to live his life going forward. He decided to take training in computer and telephone operations from the Technical Training Institute Of Poona Blind Mens Association in Pune.
In 2008, Nitin started preparing for exams that would help him get a position in a bank. Nitin’s mother is educated but has studied only in the Marathi medium. But a mother can go to any extent to nurture her child’s dreams and so did Mrs. Sirmokadam. She learnt English, studied all the exam books and read them out to Nitin.
The duo’s hard work paid off and Nitin cleared the exam to get a job in the State Bank of India. He is still preparing for the next level of exams at the Bank with the help of a reader.
“I enjoy my work at the bank. I can take more responsibilities if given. I work on a computer at home with software called JAWS that has been specially designed for the blind. This can also be used at offices where visually impaired people work alongside normal people. But I am not given the kind of work I can handle according to my qualifications. This makes me a little disappointed sometimes. I wish I could work in the area of design again,” says Nitin
In August 2010, Nitin caught an infection again. He had high fever. Mrs. Sirmokadam was all alone at home, feeling helpless because it was raining heavily outside. An old acquaintance of the Sirmokadams had come to a wedding hall located just a few steps away from Nitin’s house to attend a wedding. She happened to come and take shelter from rain at their place. Seeing Nitin shivering with fever she immediately went out and got help to transport Nitin to the hospital. In fact, she did not budge from his side till he was well again. Mrs. Sirmokadam realized she would never find a better match for Nitin than this girl who looked after him with such dedication.
Sujata, an HR manager, left her job in Nagpur and married Nitin on December 9, 2010, in spite of opposition from her parents.
“I knew him since I was a kid and often wished for a husband like him. People ask me why I decided to marry a visually impaired man when I could have married a normal person. I ask them in return ‘What is the difference?’ Nitin does not have any bad habits. His family is well educated and supportive. He helps me more than a normal person does for his wife. I have dropped my son several times by mistake but Nitin has not dropped him even once. Moreover, he trusts me. He will never question me even if I come back home at midnight,” says Sujata Sirmokadam.
Nitin and Sujata are blessed with a lovely child now. Nitin spends hours telling him stories on the swing placed in the verandah of his house.
If you know of a doctor who has a cure for Nitin’s disease or if you know a place where Nitin can pursue his original dream career of working as a design engineer in spite of his disability, then please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story is presented as part of our effort towards the National Eye Donation Fortnight 2016. You too can help the visually challenged. Donate your eyes, change someone’s life forever.
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