Mohana Dam in conversation with Chaitali Majumdar who,despite odds,is waging a battle with a smile on her face and a desire in her heart to do good for others
The sound of those encouraging words from Mother Teresa in 1989 still rings in her ears. Today Chaitali Majumdar,despite all odds,is fighting a battle with a smile on her face and a desire in her heart to do good for others.
A resident of Shyampur Road in north Kolkata,38-year-old Chaitali is wheel-chair-bound and cannot move much without the help and support of others. Suffering from myopathy,a motor neuron disease which does not have any cure,Chaitali is slowly losing her physical ability. However,this does not deter her from pursuing what she desires in life.
The first signs of her physical ailment started becoming visible at the tender age of 11. Since 1993,Chaitali faced problems in moving her limbs. Her passion to pursue science was crushed when it became difficult for her to even climb her school stairs. Though her dream of becoming a doctor may have been shattered but sitting in the wheel chair today,Chaitali fights all odds and is not only pursuing her studies but also teaching students for free. Not just that,she donates money to charitable trusts too.
An arts graduate from Jaipuria College,Chaitali did her post-graduation in history from Calcutta University in 1998. She later graduated in French from the same university and also earned a diploma in human rights from IGNOU.
Chaitali is now doing her post-graduation in Bengali from the Netaji Subhas Open University and once the course is over she plans to pursue her masters in French. A woman with an artistic bent of mind,Chaitali has framed sketches on the wall of her room. Starting from embroidery work to sketches to fabric painting,Chaitali does them all with passion and perfection.
Her disability to walk today has not made it possible for her to become a lecturer. But she teaches students without taking money from those who cannot afford it.
One of her students is visually-challenged. Chaitali always wanted to help those who were in need and thus she came in touch with Subha Ghosh,a visually-challenged girl from a poor family,through an NGO for the blind. As Chaitali had to be carried to her institute by her uncle or her friends to take exams,in her free time she used to record cassettes to be donated to the blind school.
When Chaitali took Subha under her tutelage the child was in Class VIII and today she is proud as Subha takes her graduation exams. She recalls the time when Subha would come and express her regret of not being able to receive greetings cards and how Chaitali made it a point to not only learn the Braille but also create a greeting card in Braille which she gifted to Subha. Besides Subha,there are a couple of other school-going children whom Chaitali teaches without charging fees.
The turning point in Chaitalis life was when she met Mother Teresa at the Mother House. She remembers the soothing touch that she felt when Mother held her hand and the assurance that Mother gave to her mother. According to Chaitali,Mother Teresa told her mother that even her physical disability is God-given.
There are times when Chaitalis disability comes in the way of her passions. The disease has already slowly started making it difficult for her to pursue her artistic inclinations and she feels helpless. But she reminds herself of the fact that every human being has problems in life and so has she. So she needs to fight on.
Dependent on her parents completely,Chaitali regrets that she could not even take up the offer of teaching at the Mother House made to her by Mother Teresa or even go to an NGO and work for others. However,she feels better whenever she donates money that she earns through tuitions to institutions that help the underprivileged.