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The Javelin of Hope

         Once upon a time, there lived a princess, and the princess had everything including a loving Queen and King and a lovely palace. But the palace seemed like a golden cage to our princess because she was never allowed to go out of her house due to the foot cuffs which were fastened in her legs.

          The excerpt of princess story mentioned here is of none other than

Ms Suma, who lives in Chittur, Palakkad. She is an athlete who have bagged National and State level prices in para-athletics for the items like Javelin throw, Power lifting, Archery and Basketball. Everyone who are reading this article will obviously have the doubt that how a girl who was a caged bird once, is soaring up in the sky now. Suma's motivating story unfolds like this.

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          Suma is the one and only daughter of her parents and similar to every story, her parents sat disheartened at their daughter’s plight and tried to hide her from the dangers of the outer world. After some years, they obviously realized that making their daughter dependent and locking her in the room will only harm her. So, they decided to make her independent. They had an insight that for becoming independent, exposure to social atmosphere along with education was utmost necessary and as the first step she was sent to the nearby school. But things didn't turn out that much well as expected. Her schooldays weren’t very colorful. She was all alone at her school with no one to play or have company with. Everyone in the class either took pity of her or made fun of her. During those times she was that desperate princess who recognized her congenital condition called clubbed foot as the foot cuffs which denied her freedom like other children. But she was not too much way from discovering the fact that, the foot cuffs which suppressed her freedom was not her genetical condition, instead it was her self-doubt and negative attitude towards her disability.

          Suma has reminiscence of her childhood and early life which was full of sorrows, she couldn't even step out of the room because she was ashamed to face people, their harsh words and attitude. Most of the time she sat gazing the four walls of her room. Even if Suma herself admit that her condition is far better than other people with disabilities during the initial days of her schooling or socializing. The fact that she is a bit different from other kids bothered her a lot both mentally and physically.  All of these were unacceptable by Suma as a small kid and she wasn't able to think in a more positive way as of now. However, it surely had ignited the fire in her to find the hidden warrior in her to fight through all these odds and transform the society into a more welcoming one for people with disabilities.

          As we know life is full of unforeseen twists and turns. Likewise, a turning point was waiting for Suma too. Her Golden period had approached Suma in the form of a group of angels who were her friends from 12th grade in which she is pursuing currently. They made her realize her potential in sports and constantly encouraged her to try a hand in it. Their ceaseless motivation boosted Suma's confidence to have a shot at 19th Para Athletics Championships 2021. From this point of time, her life totally changed. The girl who was like a bird inside a shell, finally came out of the shell and proved herself and the society that everything was possible for her and people like her. She tasted victory in almost all the items she participated. It is really a pride to note that Suma was the first woman athlete from Kerala to attempt and win price in powerlifting competition. She managed to secure 2nd prize in power lifting and javelin throw. Suma also emerged as a Basketball and Archery state and national champion.

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         Suma remembers and repeats the same sentence many times where she remembers the love and warmth of her friends and their motivating words that "you must go to compete in the national and state levels, you can definitely win several competition items". Suma finds the experience of being a disabled athlete a new one as her medal and trophies turned out to be the reply for those who mocked at her and questioned her talent and creativity.

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          At the sports field she was energized with more strong experiences and self-discoveries. She says that " I actually found my real strength and potential during the sports competition. There were people with severe disabilities which were difficult to manage than mine, but I could find nothing in their eyes than determination. Co-participants who used to travel alone from their distant home town was a wonder for me. Their motivation was the magic potion in which I drank to reach all these heights."

          Suma realized her full potential and reflected that her disability was very minute to be even noticed.They taught her to be strong and to struggle for proving herself that she is capable. From that time onwards suma holds her head high because each of her stumbling footsteps remind her of the immense power instilled in her soul.

          Many challenges appear in front of strong people in their way and our brave lady suma also had to face such a challenge which came in the form of covid 19. Due to the pandemic many of her competitions were postponed. She was preparing for her plus two exams which was also delayed. Suma is good at studies too and she had written public service examination for a couple of times, but the disability reservation didn't showed her any kindness.

          Suma's talents don't just stop with the sports activities, she is equally good at painting and embroidery too. Suma tries to find her living through selling her paintings and embroideries.

          Suma says lack of a livelihood opportunity is the main issue faced by her and women like her. But to combat against that she had took orders from people for doing embroidery works and paintings. "Some of the people like a textile owner in our locality was too considerate to me, they taught me embroidery and glass paintings and handed over their own precious orders. But now covid has taken a toll on me and is testing my patience, because i don't receive sufficient orders to make a smooth living", she sighs. Her greatest concern is the job insecurity of disabled people, nothing is properly done by the goverment's side to help them earn.

          Besides this suma is also involved in many social service activities, she is a daily visitor at the palliative care who spreads her contagious positivity to the inmates there. Also she is a motivation for  other disabled women to find out the real strength in them.

         The greatest and invaluable advice she has to give the disabled women is that, to step out to see the depth and colours of the world than being locked in a room and bring out the new you in you.

          The most important thing to remember is that she is not the desperate princess as before. Now she had managed to break her footcuffs of self doubt and have become a warrior queen. When the battle with covid come to an end, she will again re enter to her battlefield and  throw the javelin of hope to the hearts of umpteen differently abled women.