"I still wonder what my life would have been had I not met with an accident. I have not forgotten the memories of walking, they still make me cry. My old friends are now strangers to me. For people, you are important only because they need you,'' says the wise-beyond-her-years Seerat Saini (8) from Sector 7, Chandigarh, who became paraplegic at the age of three in 2014.
Talking to Chandigarh Newsline on the sidelines of Samman Aaj Ki Zarurat (Women of Worth awards), which witnessed Chandigarh's first-ever spinal injury survivors ramp walk and first-ever anthem fashion walk, Seerat said, '' I want to live my life happily. My mother is always there whenever I need her help. I don't know many things about life but I know it is going to be challenging.''
Her mother says that in May 2014, the car, which she was driving, overturned when she fell asleep on the wheels. While she suffered minor injuries, her daughter damaged her spine. To date, she blames herself for Seerat's plight.
The eight-year-old wants to become a singer and loves watching 'Doraemon' and 'Chhota Bheem'. She also dreams of being able to walk again. ''Before met with the accident, I used to dance. Although I still practice, I am not that good at it,'' smiles the student of Class III at New Public School.
Another spinal injury survivor, Vidya Kumari (28) recounts how after hours of unconsciousness, she opened her eyes in a hospital only to have the doctor say, ''You will not be able to walk on your feet again.'' "For months, I kept thinking why me, but then I realised there are many other who are suffering like me," says Vidya.
Vidya is from Bihar, but due to lack of support from her family she moved to Chandigarh Spinal Rehab in December 2017.
It was a bicycle accident that led to Vidya losing both her legs.
Speaking to the Newsline, she said, ''The society thinks we are insignificant, while the family treats us as a burden. It is not by choice that I am sitting on a wheelchair. God forbid but anyone can be in my condition. Our society needs to empathise with differently- abled people. Each inpidual needs to feel our pain.''
Vidya dreams of representing India in 'Para Olympics'. She has been consistently playing table tennis at Chandigarh Spinal Rehab since two years and is waiting for an opportunity to show her sporting talent. ''People need to look at us differently. If privileged people can motivate us and be around us, we won't suffer from depression or anxiety,'' Vidya adds.
Vidya says she has not yet thought about marriage.''I need to make a place for myself in this world. We do not have many role models and that is where I think I can play a role,'' she signs off.