Kiran Ishtiaq from Cholistan was born without both her limbs. She has always despised when others look at her with pity and has taken it upon herself to prove to people that she is no different than them. Even though she is restricted to her wheelchair, she has tried to make the best of her circumstances. When Kiran was born people were worried about how she would survive like this. They suggested her suffering should be ended right away, or she will live to experience a horrible life and that her parents and family would suffer along with her. “My own family however loved me, I was their blood. They told the people they would never do something like that to their flesh and blood. They took it upon themselves to bring me up with love and warmth.” While people may have had the right intentions when they recommended that, it goes to show how big of a burden a disabled person is thought of as in our society.
No one expected Kiran to stand where she does today. Her strength and undeterred conviction have resonated with many around her. Dressed in red, smiling gleefully, Kiran narrates how she defied all odds to achieve what she has today. She was fond of studying ever since she was a child. She would look at children her age going to school and would wish to join them. Her parents were skeptical at first but got her enrolled in a school where she finally got her chance to study. She passed primarily with good grades from her village. This motivated her to continue her studies, but there was no government school available in the village for that because of which Kiran had to face a lot of setbacks. But knowing Kiran, her family was sure once she sets her mind on something, she will find a way.
She traveled to another village and convinced their administration to give her admission. There, till ninth grade, she studied as a private candidate enrolled in a government school. She would study at home and show up at school to give her exams. This continued till her Metric, where to her surprise she was again able to do exceedingly well. “I was so surprised and happy about this achievement, it gave me more confidence in my abilities. I was encouraged to enroll in a college after this and I told my family about my plans.” From then on, she started looking for potential colleges. However, to her disappointment, the nearest college was in the city and far away from her village. Her family questioned how she would manage to get enrolled there and continue her studies. But she was adamant she was going to be able to do it. She started taking a van to the city with the other girls and went regularly to college. She completed her inter (F.A/FSC – equivalent to 11th -12th grade) this way. Her family was taken aback by her strength to manage her education and score brilliantly simultaneously. There were several instances where it became difficult for her but she refused to give up. She kept convincing herself that if others could do it, she could as well.
At present, she is enrolled at a college in Rahim Yar Khan for Bachelor’s degree in English. This is her fourth semester and has been doing consistently well in her degree. She attributes her success to the immense support of her teachers in her schools and college which helped her achieve all that she has today. However, a bigger role was played by her immediate family, had they shunned her as people expected them to then she would not have been alive to see all this. Her journey does not stop here. She intends to help people like herself turn their dreams into a reality, “I want to continue my education after I complete my Bachelor’s. I aim to work for people like myself. The sort of facilitation and support extended to me by my family and my teachers – I want the same for all. They deserve to have all the support and love available to them.”
“So, what if I don’t have any arms or legs, I am still a normal human being. I set out to prove to everyone that I could do it all and I did.”
As someone who has had to suffer because of her disability, even though she has all the intellectual abilities as any other person, Kiran does feel they are unfairly judged by society. People look at disabled people and immediately think they are dependent upon others for their basic survival and cannot do much on their own. While the dependency is prevalent, it is the generalization about their inability to do good for themselves and the people around them that she takes an issue with. She is smart and capable, when things seemed impossible she turned the events around. She has competed with people far more privileged both physically and financially, yet she has always come out on top. The whole point of her effort is to prove to society that her disability does not define her, nor does it define other people like her. Shunning them, and pitying them does not help them. What they need is a support system both familial and institutional that is inclusive of their needs and can facilitate them to achieve their goals. They are not a burden on society, with the right assistance, they can be on equal footing like any other person – and that is what Kiran aims to prove.