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humans of leap — paulami patel
“being an only child, i was always very comfortable being by myself and being independent. be it the smallest of things, i hated getting…
“being an only child, i was always very comfortable being by myself and being independent. be it the smallest of things, i hated getting help from anyone! my favourite hobby was drawing & painting since it allowed me to create something new every time! but i was also very close to my family. my favorite memory is travelling once every year with my parents — my dad would show me the map & point us towards our next destination!
it was the summer of 2001, 4th of june, i went to hyderabad to visit my paternal side of the family. it was a yearly ritual for me to visit my cousins alone, something i always looked forward to! it was noon when we were playing on the terrace pretending to be fishing! the terrace was in close proximity to electric wires & i had a rod in my hand with a bucket hanging at the end of it. the bucket fell from my hand by accident & i went over the terrace edge to pick it up thinking it was a normal clothing wire. i ended up touching the electric wire with my right hand & was immediately electrocuted. luckily, it was drizzling at that time & the power went off for a microsecond. that is when i was thrown back into the terrace unconscious. next thing i know? i was in the icu with 80–85% of my body burnt. within a week, my right hand was amputated to stop gangrene from spreading into my body. that changed my life!
the next few months were difficult, i was bed-ridden for at least 7 months with no mobility. it was a dark phase for my family as they had to see me undergo 40–45 surgeries in a span of 10 months. but they never made me feel like anything was wrong with me! they encouraged me to live my life as normally as i could which meant i pick up my own things & do my own chores.
from there on i went back to school & then college — which was especially hard with the number of stares & whispers i had to deal with. but i gave them the benefit of the doubt, knowing they probably lack compassion or awareness.
what helped me through this was my parent’s mentality towards me, they never pampered me even when things changed. when i got my prosthetic arm, i remember i could barely write a word initially — it was so painful. but i knew only i could help myself. after months of practice, i was able to write a full sentence in one go! truth is, there are so many things i can’t do while i thrive to be 100% independent. my daughter is turning 2 years old & i still can’t bathe her or tie her hair but acceptance is key. what i can do is drive to work every day, support my father’s business & do adventurous sports!
it took me some time to realise that it’s fine not to have an arm. as long as i keep working hard, things will work out! like my parents would say — who said you’ll get it right the first time? doesn’t mean you stop trying!
honestly, if i can do it with one hand, there’s nothing that should be stopping you!”