TWO senior judges, a battery of senior counsel and a room packed with lawyers. In the audience was Dr Roshan Shaikh, a girl who first survived a near-fatal accident, and treaded slowly but effectively to reach her goal. It was not a legal proceeding. The occasion was to felicitate her on International Women’s day in the Bombay High Court.
Shaikh, 23, had lost both her legs in a train accident when she was a teenager. Her family’s pitiable financial background coupled with her physical condition meant all the hope had been lost.
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But instead of lamenting over her condition, she got up and walked, and fought the odds to complete an MBBS with the tremendous support of her family. The Advocates Association of Western India, a body of advocates, rewarded her with Rs 2.5 lakh cash prize for having not only earned an MBBS degree recently, but doing it with sheer determination and courage.
When Justice Vijaya Kapse Tahilramani handed over a memento and the prize, Shaikh seemed overwhelmed. She recalled the time when she was in the HC the last time.
After securing third rank in the medical entrance examination, the Directorate of Medical Education and Research declared her unfit, ringing the curtain down at her hopes of securing an admission.
They reasoned she had 88 per cent disability as opposed to the eligibility criterion being just 70 per cent. It was only later when the HC heard her case, filed through her lawyer V P Patil, that her hopes rekindled.
“That was the last time I was here, and I am here today – the day when I have to pinch myself to realise it is not unreal. I was a litigant then, and now I am being honoured by the judges of the same court,” said a beaming Shaikh. For her the most traumatising and trying time was right after the accident when people would often tell her that she had compromised with most things in life. She did not listen. “My doctor Sanjay Kantharia pushed me and said you can’t just sit and contemplate. You have to stand up and fight,” she said with thought-provoking conviction.
She stood up, literally, and with nascent steps on her artificial legs once again, she embarked on an arduous task of educating herself. She passed her MBBS with flying colours, and decided she will not stop. Though her post-graduation entrance tests are still a year away, the sense of urgency and confidence in her voice is contagious.
Though uncertain about the specialisation, she knows she has decided what to do with the prize money. “I have been on the same artificial legs for the last seven years. It is now time to get a pair of new ones. Thanks to a lot of generous people, my education has not faced too many stumbling blocks,” she added.“Never lose hope. It can take you to places,” said Shaikh on parting with her family.