Monday, August 19, 2013

Impossible is nothing

There is always an idiom befitting the shades of life- 'Where there is a will, there is a way,' and this finds its personification in Malini Chib. Her boundaries of self extend beyond the fact that she has Cerebral Palsy, and  lie in the attributes that she is a survivor who fought her way through 41 years of arduous struggle of building a successful life; successful by the 'mainstream' standards.

Growing up in Mumbai came with its share of difficulties and it compounded with college life. "I'd my schooling done in a special school so it took a long while for me to adjust to college. People had difficulty interacting with me and the tribulation was mutual." Chib adds, "I went to Oxford, England for further studies and felt an instant sense of inclusion in the society. They are more sensitive toward disability as compared to us and more receptive than discriminatory."

Malini's actual tryst with life began after she stepped out of the comfortable confines of academic life and took to the mandatory job hunt rigour that every youngster has to succumb to. "It was a rude shock to realise that people failed to see beyond my disability and declined me jobs, or offered me backend chores, but without a salary," she recalls. This rejection motivated her to fight stronger and make her way through the rigid society. "There were times when I grew tired of the struggle. Since I lacked both speed and speech, which are essential for a job, my chances at employment only got bleak, while I persisted relentlessly," she expresses.

Malini's personality goes beyond endurance with all its nuances; there is less seen-spoken side to it, she is a peoples' person and as ironic as it may sound, though people aren't forthcoming, she has no reservations against them. Ask Malini what's her favourite sport and she will blurt a prompt reply- 'Talking endlessly about life.' A flash of excitement crosses her face when she is asked to make candid confessions about men and love. Mischievously she answers, "I frighten men off. It's not unusual for people with disability to have sexual desires and think of a stable life with a man. But, a man leading a 'normal' life finds this idea rather unusual and hence unacceptable. Nonetheless I've had my share of crushes."

She chuckles that she has a taste for finer things in life like a round of red wine with family and friends. Being an eternal romantic that she is, she enjoys listening to old love songs, operas, watching theatre plays and movies - 'Ammu' and 'The beautiful mind' are her favourite flicks. Another thing she loves to do is shop at Colaba causeway and Westside.

While the cosmopolitan nature of Mumbai appeals to her, London is where her heart is, as its gives her the sense of freedom. She points out, "I can move around without anyone's help, the infrastructure is constructed keeping in mind the needs of people with disability."

What keeps her in Mumbai besides her family is her job at Oxford bookstore where she is a senior executive, event management. "People do not really care about those who're on a wheelchair. But at my workplace people are approachable; they want to know more about me and am accepted as a whole person," states Malini. If there is anything that irks her is the attitude of educated people, who underestimate her capabilities.

Malini's achievements are a testimony to the fact that there is no limit to what one can achieve and extract from life. And yes there is no dearth of aspirations either. She aspires to write a book someday and make her million.

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