Manasi’s story is not about losing a limb because of a road accident or winning a medal in a world championship thereafter. And what it definitely is not is a sob story, assigning a blame to anyone. It is about a simple girl who is living life on her own terms, her prosthetic leg notwithstanding.
Accepting, as is
Most of us can only aspire to be called ‘extraordinary’, and if we are, it’s pretty much a lifetime achievement. But Manasi thinks otherwise. “I’m just a regular girl, living a simple life. It’s the people around me who are extraordinary and go the extra mile to help me achieve what I wanted to,” she states with, what we have come to understand, her characteristic candour. And that’s what sets this lovely woman apart. It’s not the fact that her left leg was amputated after it was crushed by a truck in a horrific road accident in December 2011 and endured a long road to recovery thereafter.
Or that she played her first badminton tournament less than a year after becoming ‘disabled’ and then went on to win the silver medal in the parabadminton World Championship in 2015. “None of it was easy, but the more I accepted that I had lost a limb, the better I could deal with it,” says Manasi. “What helped me greatly was that my parents and friends accepted it too. If they wouldn’t have, too much energy and time would have been wasted fighting them. And that’s how fighting the world became easier for me.” This, she says, is what one requires the most to get you through difficult times—love and acceptance from the people around you.
Reams have been written on this lovely 26-year-old with a sunshine smile after the ‘Humans for Bombay’ page on Facebook posted her story. The story went viral instantly. While Manasi felt good that people wanted to know her story, and that it had the power to change someone’s life for the better, she’s still learning to handle the attention from strangers who want to take selfies with her. “Please don’t idolize me because then I’ll have to be more responsible,” says Manasi. “I want to make mistakes, as many as possible, and learn from each of them. I’m definitely not a role model.” For those of us who let far lesser life-changing events affect us negatively, her positivism is refreshing. “It’s okay to be stressed, confused, worried or sometimes completely directionless,” she says. “Everybody has problems; none of it is smaller or bigger. The loss of a limb is no more life-changing than going through a break-up or losing a loved one. Find solutions to solve your individual problems. And as in Maths, in the end, the left hand side should always be equal to the right hand side.”
A new leaf
Manasi sees herself as a truly ordinary person, struggling with things like managing a job, taking leave from work for tournaments, practising the game, finding time for herself, her family and friends. That’s why; her blog is titled ‘Ordinary ME’. “Frankly, there is so much of ‘Inspiration Porn’ associated with people with disabilities, I started my blog because I wanted to emphasise that I’m just like any other woman who has met with a trauma and is trying hard to keep her life on track. My story is nowhere close to inspirational,” she says. “Sometimes, it’s difficult to fight with the world every day and sometimes it’s extremely easy. All I do is accept the challenges and try to be as honest as I can to myself. I strongly believe in hard work and patience and do my best, irrespective of the circumstances.” Manasi believes that the accident made others realise that too. But yes, she now spends more time appreciating the simpler joys of life. “I was a slave to routine back then and was just too preoccupied, had materialistic dreams and was doing nothing new,” she admits. “But it’s easy to be sympathetic and tolerant; all you need to do is walk in another’s shoes and remember that everyone is fighting their own battle.”
Apart from her badminton tournaments, which she has to travel for, Manasi has now vowed to take at least three trips every year. Last year saw her visit a dozen places—for sports and leisure. “I met many new people and it has given me an altogether new perspective about things, people and life. I try to convert every long weekend into a leisure trip,” says the intrepid traveller.
Through all the joys she is now discovering, Manasi believes that the road accident was nobody’s fault. And the thought helps her find peace. “I dealt with it by accepting that now nothing can be done and the only way is to move forward,” she says. “It’s very easy to be a victim of circumstance, but I choose to look at myself as a survivor. I think we’re limited by our own minds, and everything is possible when we become self-aware. That’s what helped me move on.