After a week full of rigorous training at the swimming academy, Disha was returning home, when she received a call from her mother. She told her to meet at gateway and they could go home together.
Disha was 10 years old when she started to understand that swimming is her passion, and underwater with water currents she used to imagine herself as a mermaid swimming across the oceans. Her talent and passion was identified by her parents and they tried to direct her skills into the desired direction. Now after 8 years Disha is an accomplished swimmer many medals and trophies already been brought by her. She also won the national championship. Her joy and ambitions were soaring high. And this year she is very close to representing her country on an international platform.
At sunset when Disha arrived, her curious eyes were looking for her mother in all directions; she was surprised and puzzled when she could not find her around. And as she took out her phone and was dialling, her phone started ringing, in a haste she picked up and with restlessness and anguish in her tone she started yelling,"Mom, I am standing here for a while, I am very tired looking for you all around. where are you?” On the other side, with calm and poise her mother said " you come inside hotel situated just in front of the pavement i reached here little early so ordered a cup of tea."
A bit relaxed but still in a hurry she entered into hotel’s restaurant. And when she entered it was grand, a fairy tale welcome for her, symphony of violin was so melodious that once she thought if she was at a right place or there has been some big confusion around, and numerous possibilities were flickering in her mind, and then she heard her parents singing “happy birthday” along with others.
It was a day to remember all her loved ones were around; her parents wanted to make this day special for her as it was her eighteenth birthday and from next month she would be moving to Delhi for further training.
Amidst all celebration suddenly a loud noise brought everything into a lull. Giggle and laughter turned into uncertain pause. And one more shot, and this one louder than the before, everyone was startled surely not prepared for this. As seconds were ticking bullet shots were becoming clearer and louder and after each shot, they could hear helpless screams. No one knew what was coming. Disha swiftly ran towards the main gate to look for help. Among all chaos, only one voice which was reaching to them was to "Run". Something disastrous was waiting.
The main entrance was locked from outside, and there was no way to get out. And screams became deafening and laughter turned into cacophony. Guests were clueless but very scared; they knew that worse was coming. Some of them standing near the main entrance trying to unlock the door and yelling for help. They all were into shambles fell on the floor with a sudden jerk when a young boy with dark black fierce eyes, loaded with bullets and holding Ak 47 in his hands barged into the room. With no specific target, he just fired a few rounds in all directions people were struck with a shiver in their bones. He left the way he entered the room.
And then the place once filled with a delightful celebration is now blanketed into opaqueness. People were crying with agony and pain. Blood started to flow beneath the carpeted floor of the lavishly designed dining area. Disha lying in one corner of the room, trying to look for her parents, she tried to get up holding a chair kept on her side. In spite of gathering her courage and efforts to stand, she felt week, trembling with fear, her body couldn’t take the weight and she succumbed to the ground.
When she got up, she found herself in hospital, clutched and immovable. Deep crunching pain in her bones made even breathing difficult for her. In a voice very feeble she could only speak “Ma”. Slowly one by one doctor started to come to examine her current condition. Her eyes were continuously looking for one familiar face. And as she was scanning around she could find two eyes filled with tears gazing at her from a glass window. Her mother entered the room sobbing and injured.
Amidst all this grief she could find some relief when she found her mother next to her. She could hardly speak, lips were dry and voice crumbled. Her mother constantly repeating that “you will be fine, you will be fine.” As she was gaining strength she found something is restricting her movement, she tried to toss, and she couldn’t turn. She felt no life in her legs; she took her hands under the sheets to feel, and she broke into inconsolable melancholy when she found nothing beyond her knees other than the thick cover of bandage and despair.
She screamed her throat was churning. She could barely hear anything. She could not feel anything other than bleak and dim future. Days turned into months, her life at the hospital started to become a routine. Every day she got up, she gazed at sea from her room window and innumerable times in a day she thought how she could have dodged that bullet which turned her life upside down.
Then after two months sixteen days, the day had come when she was getting discharged. The hospital became a second home for her and the entire staff was there to bid her goodbye. Her parents beside her wheelchair tried to lift her and balanced her into a void between four wheels. Just before they were leaving Disha, silently held her care taker’s hand and whispered in her ears “Didi, wish me luck I am going to face this world with one leg and with twice my courage.”
Once she was back in her room, those four walls which were the most comforting space for her, started to haunt her. Everywhere she looked she found the traces of her victory, each medal every trophy on the shelf was renouncing the relentless hard work she put in to achieve them. She was desperate to dive into the water and swim across. She wanted to forget her disability and wished to be back to her own self. Seasons passed though her wounds were healed her soul was still waiting for a miracle. She isolated herself and was digging herself into some unknown fear. Her mother who was always giant support and inspiration for her, could not bear the pain Disha was going through. It was her continuous efforts that persuaded Disha to go back to her academy and meet her coach.
On a very pleasant morning, Disha was determined to start her new journey took her path, towards a known but in an entirely different way. Her body was shivering when she saw the same blue water which was her playground once; she couldn’t stop herself and jumped into the pool. She was unable to control her position in the water, her limbs which were vegetative for some time started to stimulate, and the buoyancy started to relieve the strain on the body. Titanium rod and screws placed in her femur and with an amputated leg, her body was becoming weak, but she was sure this time to not let her dreams be dampened. She was there to continue her quest to compete in the Olympics.
As she rose out of the water she started looking for new possibilities. She quickly hugged her mother and declared its time to move on, on listening this her mother’s joy knew no bound. And from that day on wards there was no looking back.
Each day her determination became stronger and she was getting closer to her goals. Though she had one limb missing still she competed for able-bodied freestyle swimming. Each day she had a new challenge to face. She qualified to swim 400-meter able-bodied freestyle final. This became the first time in the history of athletics a disabled athlete was able to qualify to participate for an able-bodied event in the finals.
One year later during Commonwealth Games, she was awarded a special award for an extraordinary athlete. Now it’s been 14 years since she lost her leg and there is been no turning back. Sitting in front of the camera sharing her story with thousands of people like her or maybe in some better situation than her. She is been tirelessly passing on her story to make people believe that miracles happen within. She was often frustrated when people noticed her disability before they begin to know her, so meeting people was another challenge for her. She worked harder, now because her right leg was always worked twice as hard.
Today, Disha is very busy meeting the demands of being a motivational speaker. She is well-known for her ability to inspire young people to pursue their dreams. Her swimming career has become an inspiration for many people all over the world who hear her story. She gives talks to schools, organisations, as well as other groups. She speaks to people about facing good situations as well as bad situations. She shares the many lessons she has learned about facing her adversity. Her emphasis is on self-belief and how her desire to succeed against all odds came from within her.
“The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goals; the tragedy of life lies in not having goals to reach for.”