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My Story; My Life

My Story; My Life

by Sheetal Malhotra

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This is Sheetal Malhotra, a manager with MNC who wants to create awareness about Dwarfism and want them to have all kind of rights which a physical disable person has. I don't want publicity or name but all I want is everyone gets the same right to live especially in India. We have almost in all developed countries government support for little people except in India where we have the highest educated people and all type of professionals.

To start my story, I am Sheetal Malhotra from Pathankot a small kind of town in Punjab. I was three when I went to School. That school was my grand father's friend school so that I got personal attention there and people could take care of me. I and my sister were in convent but my parents were scared to put me there as people will tease me and make fun of me. Still my sister encouraged my parents to get me admission there. When I went to that school the Principal told my mom that I would have to get admission in nursery class again but I actually gone for 3rd standard. My mom agreed but then my sister fought for me and luckily I got admission in the 3rd standard. Now my sister went to Army school again she tried for me there and they had some attitude that I should get admission in first class as in that school. Again my sister convinced them and I got admission.

My sister expired when I was in 7th standard. I was left all alone. I had to walk 1km everyday to reach my bus stop. Everyone used to bully me and made fun of me. I used to cry. I used to pray everyday to God to make everyone asleep so that I don't have to face anyone. I remember my home used to be just 1 min away but if some kid used to see me they used to make fun of me and again I used to cry. I never cried in front of my mother because I knew she was already in pain.

We then moved to new house and my brother and I were in the same school and then little bit teasing got ok for me. I always used to think why people make fun of me and why everyone keep staring at me for a while and why not at others. I did my 10the std with average marks but I was not sure what should I do after that? I wanted to become lawyer or study science but I was always told that due to height issue this was not the right profession for me. I ended up taking commerce and got good marks. Now the time was to get admission in college. I didn't want to study in my town because of people's mentality. My father himself didn't want to send me anywhere as he was not sure how I would take care of myself alone. Somehow they agreed and I got admission in Chandigarh, I was thinking how would I stay alone, who would wash my clothes, how would I carry my bags and everything but I had just one aim and that was to change mind-set of people by becoming something.

People used to tell my mom get my disability certificate and I used to hate that as when I had brains why I need that. But still I went with my mom to some hospital to get that so they said these kind of people cant get. Though I didn't want that certificate but I wanted to ask people if they would carry my bag, or ask them if they knew how difficult it was for me to climb a bus, if they knew how difficult it was for me to face a rickshaw guy alone and climb on it, if they knew there was no counter for me in banks and the ATMs. I had to take guard's assistance. At last nothing happened, my mom came with me to the hostel there I met someone (some editor in newspaper) who said that he don't want his sister to stay with me. I was broken this was my first day and people had these thoughts in their mind. I called my cousin in Shimla and told her and cried like mad and told her that I was going back. I would study in my town only. She told me to wait and give things sometime. She made me talk to a person who had similar problem like mine. She asked me to have aim in life. Just one person saying something and I was walking away from this. Then I told to myself, Yes this is nothing there will be many more coming and for me is my aim in life that's it.

After that I got good friends and graduated. Now was the turn to do MBA. My father told me if I was not going beyond Punjab. I knew with my moms support I can go anywhere. I got admission in Mumbai. I stepped in my college and saw different reactions. But by this time I was already used to. With some people I got confidence and with some people I got the spirit to achieve my dreams more.

One of my friends told me to do ramp walk. I was like, Are you crazy, a gal like me doing it? He told me to just do it. I did for him with all the confidence in my mind that I don't care what people think but because of him people will know me. I got feelings for him because we need love, we need attention and that's what he was giving me. I never told him.

Now the time was for placements. we were all sitting together in a hall and I was thinking that I would easily get as my communication was strong and I had great confidence but then I sat for two companies and they just ignored me. I felt really bad and talked to my friends. They said it was difficult to get the job but not to lose hope. Then I told myself if my friends think still the same how could expect from a third person to think about me when he/she doesn't know me at all. Then one MNC came where I cleared Group discussion and I went for the interview. I was not asked anything about my education or technical questions but my personal life, my qualities, challenges and my interest in other activities.

Post the interview they said they had put me on hold as they wanted to reconfirm with their senior management about me. I was again disheartened as when I have brains, I was educated like others why someone has to re-think and have approvals. If an operational job doesn't require any physical fitness then why someone has to think. I still waited. I got no call but somewhere I had hope that they might select me. I arranged for MNC's number and called them and asked and was told if there would be any open position they would think. I just told them I wa really looking forward for this opportunity and requested them to give me one chance. My mother was with me to support all the time and said not to worry, forget all this and become a teacher. I was just silent, thinking, Am I really made for that??? On Feb 15 I got call that I was selected and could join from June. I got really happy. People used to hesitate to talk to me as if I would eat them up or would hurt them physically. Time went by and on 14 Nov one colleague messaged me Happy children day. First I didn't get why she has to wish, n innocently i asked others why she is messaging that and they laughed and went. I still didn't get then after some I understood and cried a lot. I called my cousin again and told her she said don't stop yourself from anything and forget. But I had lot of anger in my mind i messaged her back that what you have done to me shows you are immature so i forget this now. There were many incidents where I had to work harder then others to prove myself. Till now I am staying as paying guest and see everyday lot of people passing comments and asking me stupid questions about my height or how i am staying alone and all. But I completely ignored thinking they are ignorant and should not feel bad about it.

I want to change mind-set of people, that people who are dwarf are physically dwarf and just by height and not mentally. I remember I was being asked by some educated lady if I get regular periods. I want to change the mind-set that dwarfs can only be used as mode of entertainment. That is the reason people Laugh on us. We need to give them same rights like other people with disabilities, as most of the dwarfs I know are self employed businesses, or in entertainment as no one easily recruits them. In the banks or airports or public places we need to make government aware to give them assistance for their work as they can't reach counters alone. In the schools we need to put stools down so that they can comfortably climb and can put their feet on the stool for the rest. In schools we need to give some special sports services so that they don't feel neglected, we need to open websites for their marriages so that they don't have to hunt with the general category and get hurt. Special education for the parents as how to take care of their kids and boost their confidence.

This all can be done only when we get government support and understand dwarf needs. Every child after 40000th kid in dwarf as per recent study so we have to think how we are taking care of them.. Lets educate India that they need to respect their own people.

Sheetal Malhotra

The author writes regularly for CTH. She may be contacted at contact@crossthehurdles.com