There are people who perennially indulge in cribbing or cynicism. There are also those who defeat ill luck with fortitude even though life has utterly battered them.
Manasi Joshi belongs to the latter category by far. She had suffered such a debilitating injury in a road accident in 2011 at the age of 22 that she lost one leg entirely. Life itself was obviously the toughest burden to carry aloft on her young shoulders after her disastrous accident. But she was already an engineer in electronics and had been playing badminton since the age of 6. The nights must have been dark and the future must have seemed absolutely gloomy. Yet, with one natural leg and one prosthetic limb, she began to play badminton and even entered championships, where those who were similarly injured became here opponents.
Her silver and bronze medal performances in international competitions a few years ago were followed by a superb exhibition at the world championship at Basel, Switzerland, on August 25 when she made India truly proud.
There was also the inspiring life story of Arunima Sinha that came to light a few years ago and which really shook us to the core. She was pushed off a running train by dacoits and lost her leg. Not only did she virtually shrug off the ghastly incident and its impact on her psyche but she also became a mountaineer. And not just any mountaineer, she actually conquered Mount Everest! The sheer resilience of the mind which has the ability to bounce back in such fashion from the unimaginable depths of gorges, is what leaves an indelible impression, when we think of her.
And what do you and I fear? Unless we have suffered something that is irrevocably damaging to our lives, we truly cannot allow ourselves to indulge in worries, anxieties and fears. Yes, we are human. Yes, even the two remarkable ladies mentioned above must have spent days in suffering and agony. Yet, if we seek inspiration from people like them, we can vanquish our own negativities with relative ease.
Even a smiling street urchin or a humorous rickshaw wallah, who are at the lowest rung of the economic ladder, should motivate us to shrug off our own transient problems. The average human being is bound to go through ups and downs with alarming regularity. Even the topmost achievers of the world have to go through them. Then why wallow in self pity? Why carry the question ‘why me?’ with us at all times?
The principal of the blind school of Chandigarh, JS Jayara, is another role model. Recently honoured by the administration, he has always carried the air of being one who has a song in his heart. The opportunity to meet him and his family on Independence Day made me realise that people like him are icons in our midst. The Samsung advertisement in which the repair man attends to the malfunctioning television set of a blind school up in the hills, brings a tear to the eye each time we watch it.
What is that x-factor that makes some people break and others break records after bouts of adversity hit them, as American author Arthur William Ward asked? It has to be the mind that creates obstacles in the path of those who buckle and collapse when waves of misfortune come upon them. And it is the mind which is also our greatest friend, as Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the Autobiography of a Yogi, so wonderfully put.
PV Sindhu, newly crowned world badminton champion, befittingly exchanged congratulatory messages with Manasi on twitter after their triumphs. Tagore must have had such human beings in mind when he wrote ‘Where the mind is without fear…”