Something To Look At

‘I know that because I am young and visibly disabled, people are going to notice me. I think that my style has changed because of that. Before my condition became apparent, my dress was… ignorable. I tended toward dark or muted colors. Now I wear much brighter things, bigger jewelry… just more. Now I wear hats, too. That’s not to be distinctive but to limit light, but I know they make me noticeable, too. It’s pretty common for strangers to compliment my hat and ask where I got it… Most of my visible disabilities, I’m not at all ashamed of or embarrassed about. When my hand flies up for no reason and people stare, I’ll give a pointed look back and go on with my business. It has changed my self-image (body-image?): It’s made me bolder. I know people look, maybe even pity… and I’ll give them something to look at and no reason to pity.’

Comment from Beth on Disabled Feminists External Website that opens in a new window

No Looking Back

‘I was a lot into dancing as a co-curricular activity. a major tragedy struck my life. My parents and I had gone for our yearly “abhishek” to the South. We were returning and our bus met with an accident. I suffered a fracture in my right femur. Since it was an accident case, we were thrown into a government hospital. Call it the doctor’s mistake or my misfortune; they put a plaster on my fracture and the toe started getting black. Since my parents too had been injured in the accident, there was no one handy to take a decision and look into my condition closely.

By the time my cousins came from Chennai, gangrene had set in. I was shifted to Vijaya Hospital in Chennai under the care of a leading orthopedic surgeon. He did his best for 20 days, but it became a question of life or limb. I had no other option but to get my right leg amputated.

But I have always believed in asking – “What next?” rather than, “Why me?” If Helen Keller could overcome her handicap, so can I. The seed of achievement lies in the human mind. When this realization comes, there is no looking back. Once I decided that my handicap was not going to stop me from dancing, that was it.’

Sudha Chandran (Bharatanatyam dancer, film and television actress, who lost her leg in an accident), 48, right-leg amputee, as interviewed on External Website that opens in a new window

Keep On Dancing

‘My love affair with the dance began at the age of eight, when my grandmother took me to see the film The Red Shoes. I saw that beautiful, red-headed ballerina up on the screen, and I knew, right then, that I wanted to be a dancer when I grew up… While preparing for my first Broadway show in 1987, I slipped on ice, fell down a flight of stairs and broke my back. Now a paraplegic, I use a wheelchair, and work diligently on behalf of performing artists with disabilities. After my accident I was sure that my dancing days were over. How could I dance when I couldn’t walk? The thought of life without dancing was extremely depressing for me. I had to find a way to keep dancing. What I learned was that the dancer inside me didn’t know or care that I was using a wheelchair, she just wanted to keep dancing.’

Kitty Lunn, paraplegic, on Infinity Dance External Website that opens in a new window