I was fortunate enough to meet, chat and interact with the brave Deepa Malik Ji at the 81st All India Inter University Athletics Championship who has braved chest-below paralysis and spinal tumour treatment for almost 20 years and achieved some impossible feats.
My conversation with her during her visit to KIIT and KISS had immensely motivated me. She clearly told us that she is on a mission to grow– Ability Beyond Disability. Being an international sportsperson par excellence and recipient of recognized awards such as Padma Shri and the Arjuna Award hadn’t had the slightest effect on her. She is so humble.
Instead of having an ego, she has developed a conscience to help women and people with disability to look beyond their hindrances and move forward in life.
Deepa Malik ji mentioned that she was diagnosed with a spine tumour when she was five, and after three years of treatment and physiotherapy she recovered from it. However, in 1999, her tumour returned at the age of 29 and doctors were left with no other choice but to operate. They made it clear to her that the surgery would have severe consequences. It took 3 surgeries and 183 stitches to eradicate the cancerous tumour off her body. But, it left her paralyzed from the waist down. This incident turned her life upside down but it couldn’t stop her. Tough people last forever!
Deepa Ji began her sporting career at the age of 30 and excelled in not one, but in multiple sports categories including Shotput, Swimming, Javelin throw, Discuss throw, and even Motorcycling. This story made me realise that if a person is willing to start a journey, then age is just a number. Being a woman, undergoing humiliation and pain, she emerged as a winner.
Since then, she has won 23 international and more than 54 national medals in various sporting events. Her list of achievements won’t fit into the size of this blog. She has created history over and over again. Be it by becoming the first-ever Indian female Para-athlete to win an Asian Games medal in athletics or the first-ever female World Championship medal, Deepa ji to me stands as a monument of inspiration.
In conclusion, I would like to mention that, Deepa Ji is an inspiration to women and human beings in general. She had the conviction to win over her disabilities and I am a big believer of people who can turn problems into opportunities. As I am a huge supporter of women’s empowerment, Deepa Ji’s story furthers my belief that women are more than capable to achieve what they want in life.
I quote her, “People should accept and to adapt. Half the times I have seen people live in denial. Most of the time is spent in lamenting. They are so preoccupied by feeling sorry for their disabilities to forget their abilities hidden in them. So what I say is accept. Acceptance leads you in a positive state of mind and adapting means you learn the disability. You learn the alternative things you can do with disability.”
Such an inspiration!