Being the eldest child in a conventional Indian family has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Bestow by nature with loads of anxious energy, ambition, enthusiasm, the age of 19 saw my life changing forever. Abolt from the blue brought for her the diagnosis of Stevens–Johnson syndrome [A drug induced reaction during a viral fever] with leaving me with a 95% vision impairment.

Being strong, resilient and determined, my struggle had only just begun. Fighting odds both internally and externally I set out to achieve my goals. My family struggled along with me to regain the equilibrium that was snatched from our lives and coping with a condition so far unimagined.

At my flash back, “In 2003, I felt like I was hit by an avalanche. Life was at the peak of destruction, Left with endless despondency, with feeling like life will never be the same hereafter. It was extremely challenging for me to cope with this ambiguity”.

“I couldn’t accept, to live the life of a blind person. I would not be able to see my parents anymore and the world around me. left to touch and feel my way around, not knowing where I was or what I was touching. It was the toughest time of my life. I was fighting denial, self loathing, while experiencing varied degrees of rejection from society. I was completely broken from within, Burdened with heavy depression. It was then that someone suggested I should enroll with the course at “Art of Living”. After lots of ups and downs, challenges, acceptance, rejection…, I began to see a faint light at the end of the dark tunnel, and accepted my impairment”.

“My road to recovery had begun. I met Payal Kapoor, also blind, in Hyderabad, who counselled me and suggested to continue my education and learn computers. Thereafter I persevered, and completed my graduation majoring in psychology. Simultaneously my interest in information technology grew and I began to spend many hours at my computer”.

“July 18th 2011, the day the course of immense change in my life. This was the one chance given to proof myself.
I successfully completed a 3 month training for service management in collaboration with IBM by enable-india, Bangalore. There after I was given a chance to complete my internship, working on project with enable-india’s candidate database for around 3 months, being a novice, I had to fit into a work environment and enhance my skills to work on projects.

In march 2012, I have returned to the same house where I have spent 9 years of my life as a blind person, now empowered, confident and happy. Essentially, armed with mobility skills using the white cane, a tool determining the degree of independence and self respect of a blind person. The newly aquired mobility skills added to my new found confidence, and this time around I began moving in the city all on my own. Revisiting some of my favourite haunts, visiting family and friends independently was an unparalleled experience”.

“I am living my life independently, with dignity and confidence.Not wasting any time, I signed up for a course in web development, in Hyderabad. Simultaneously I was being interviewed by IBM Hyderabad for various profiles. Finally my dream to be financially independent is here! On October 22nd 2012, I was offered the position of project coordinator in PMO which I accepted readily. Now I work in an organization of international repute, being called an IBMer! Life has come a full circle; once seeking motivation outside, I am today called upon to be the motivator, not a role to be taken lightly”.

My parents have this to say about my journey, “You have changed immensely, acquired skills to deal with not only your peers, but also those which will stand you in good stead to move on in life. The first baby steps have picked pace and are moving from strides to leaps. We are proud of you!”

- Neha Agarwal / Hyderabad