I can vividly remember, it was in May 1995, I was on my way home to Srinagar when a clash suddenly broke out between the militants and security forces. Before I could figure it out, shooting pain ran through my body —it was the moment that changed my life forever.
At least three bullets had hit me, damaging my spinal cord and lower limbs. I was bedridden for two straight years.
I was in my early twenties then. With a bachelor's degree in medical technology, I was intending to get admission either to Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University or Kashmir University. I received the offer letter on my hospital bed. Later, I got a job at Srinagar's Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences since I was a medical student. My brother initially used to drop me at my office, which continuously reminded me of the never-ending trauma that I had been befallen with.
There were two options. Either to live or die, but I was stuck in the middle, half dead and half alive. But then I made a choice, to give up the life of dependency and depression and give it back. Fortunately, my necessities turned me into an innovator.
Why depend on my brother to drive me to the workplace? I will drive my car, but how? The question would strike.
With the help of my brother and a local mechanic, I made a customised car after six years of conceptualising the idea. It works like a scooter where you can control the accelerator, brake and clutch with your hands only. It took me years of practice to make me a perfect driver.
After completing my post-graduation in immunology, I was selected for a PhD program. In 2014, I was honoured with a national award for my contribution to science by the then President Pranab Mukherjee. Besides many awards, I have also authored a book.
Even though life has come a long way, those 'dark corners' of my life still haunt me sometimes. I wish the incident had never happened, I too have the right to see heaven as other people do, I too want to reach the top floor of the office building as quickly as my other colleagues do. But then I remember, a disability could not define my life negatively, this is the life Almighty has bestowed me with, I need to be grateful for it.