Highly Commended Story - Junior Category
“An Audacious Lass” by Sejal Bajaj, Nigerian Tulip School, Abuja, Nigeria, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2018.
Eleven-year-old Sejal Bajaj lives in the capital city of Nigeria, Abuja. She is studying in Nigerian Tulip International College (NTIC) in Seventh standard. She is an Indian by origin, but her family moved to Nigeria in the year 2011. She is always fascinated by the world of literature and inspired by world authors and writers. J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter fantasy series) and William Shakespeare are her favorite authors. She also has an interest in painting and sketching during her spare time. She wants to create and maintain her own blog where she could write and illustrate more stories.
An Audacious Lass
Nisha’s family was waiting eagerly outside the maternity ward to hear the good news; a news they have been waiting for months to hear. Nisha’s husband Ramesh, who was the most anxious among the family members, was seen folding his hands in chanting and praying to the Almighty. It was a bright and sunny afternoon. Nisha and her family were excited to hear the first wail of the baby.
Suddenly, the nurse opened the door of the ward and came out with the baby in her hand. While the baby was crying, Nisha’s family were not just excited to have the first look of the baby but also danced with joy on hearing the news that a beautiful girl has arrived to be part of their family.
But then, a terrible news awaited that shattered Nisha and Ramesh. The doctor called Ramesh to her cabin and revealed the news.
Doctor: “Ramesh and Nisha, I need you both to be strong during this hour. I wanted to share a bad news. Your daughter is physically challenged and there is a possibility that your child will not be able to walk on her legs due to immobility. This is because of a prenatal disability which was not detected during early stages of pregnancy. I am sorry to share this bad news with you.”
These were the last words by the doctor who took her stethoscope from the table and started leaving her cabin to attend another maternity case, showing her sympathy towards Nisha and Ramesh.
The world fell apart for both Ramesh and Nisha who were shocked and disturbed. Nisha was not able to bear this news and had tears running down her cheeks. After a couple of days staying at the hospital, Nisha finally arrived home along with her sweet daughter.
Nisha’s neighbors and relatives also showed their sympathy towards the family. However, Ramesh and Nisha decided that in no way are they going to abandon their daughter. They named her ‘Asha’ meaning ‘Hope’ (in Hindi language).
As time went by, Asha was a year old. Ramesh, noticed that Asha was not able to walk on her own. Everyday, he helped Asha by massaging her legs using different herbal oils. He made a wooden walker for her. He used to do small exercises with Asha for mobility and ensured her body did not became numb. Nisha on the other hand, used to go to the temple and pray every day for the well-being of her daughter. Gradually with constant exercise and prayers, Asha was able to walk on her legs.
Further, when Asha grew up, every day became a challenge for her. Her classmates used to look at her in odd ways and make silly comments. She was not able to stretch her hands properly due to dexterity issues. However, with much efforts, she started her normal routine tasks. Everything went smoothly but suddenly when she turned 9 years, her backbone started to bend leading to a big hump on her back. She was short compared to her classmates. Her life became more miserable than before. Other girls in her class were growing to be more beautiful. She went into depression. She had no friends around her. She used to complain to the Almighty for giving a painful life. But then she also started questioning herself if she was the only sufferer in the world. Like her, there are many in the world who have physical disabilities, yet they have achieved a lot in their life.
Asha’s best friends were her parents - Ramesh and Nisha – who supported her and gave her a lot of courage at every step. With their support she also decided that instead of giving up she will fight. She will not spend her life, pitying herself. She felt she is a special child of God and that she would not waste her life. She gained self-confidence and stopped thinking about her physical appearance. She concentrated on her studies and ultimately came first in her class. She had to undergo several surgeries during that time as well. Children were making fun of her at school because of her physical challenges but she continued to be strong. She continued to study and eventually finished her college with first division. Her classmates used to come to her for guidance and seeking help in their studies. She finally passed the civil service exam and got a government job.
Her new life began, as she impressed everybody with her hard work, especially Rishi, her office boss, a handsome, fair, tall man who started liking Asha. Asha, knowing her physical disability, avoided him as she did not wanted to be a burden for him. She kept distance from Rishi. It was difficult for Rishi to convince Asha to get married to him as he truly liked him. Gradually Rishi was able to convince Asha and his family. On the weddingday, Rishi looked at Asha’s face, with a warm and compassionate smile. Asha finally found a real friend in the form of Rishi.
She didn’t care what happened to her in the past and currently is living her life peacefully with all oddities. Inspite of all the odds that she faced in life, she faced everything with courage and bravery to move forward. This is life. Live life without fear and without any regrets.
Fear is the biggest disability of all and will paralyze you more than you being in the wheel chair -- Nick Vujicic
Moral: Never give up, no matter whatever happens in life.