Madhura Vaze was born with hearing impairment. When her mother went to enrol her in primary school, many teachers told her that she would be better off at a school for special children. Simantini, Madhura’s mother, did not give up and enrolled her in a normal school. Today, when Class XII mark sheets were distributed, Simantini stood vindicated as her daughter topped the arts stream of Fergusson College with 94.92 per cent.
“I noticed she couldn’t hear when she was six-months old. Since then I have been researching on the subject and have taken her to audiologists and speech therapists. She uses a hearing device. The speech therapist had told us to say the same sentences a thousand times so that she registered it as a child. We did as we were told. I took two years leave from work to concentrate on my child, and by the age of 2, she could speak, said Simantini.
Madhura had also scored 95 per cent in her Class X exams and has consistently been good at both academics and extra curricular activities like badminton and painting. “It was hard finding a school for her. But Huzurpaga admitted her and since then there has been no looking back. Sometimes she used to complain that students teased her because of her disability. I had instilled it into her from the very beginning that society would not change for her and that she had to change to live in society. It was a challenge, but I am happy she has succeeded so far,” said Simantini.
Madhura wants to become an architect and has already appeared for entrance exams. “I want to go to J J College as I love to paint and do sketches. I used to study regularly for the Class XII exams and that has finally paid off. My elder sister too helped me a lot,” said Madhura.
At a time when scoring above 90 per cent has become a norm to get into a good institute, Himanshu Pataskar’s score of 53.38 per cent may not seem much. But a look at the kind of difficulties he had to face, the score seems better than most. Himanshu suffers from cerebral palsy. He is wheelchair-bound, there is very less coordination in his hands and he suffers from speech defect. The four months leading up to his pre-board exams, he underwent various surgeries as a plate in his leg had dislocated and become septic. Despite all this, Himanshu, a student of Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC), appeared for his Class XII commerce board exam, and passed, a feat that every one in the college is proud of.
“He was the Maharashtra topper in Class X among students affected with CP. This time too he would have scored higher had his crucial days leading up to the board exams not been spent in hospital. We had told him that it was alright if he took the exams next year, but he did not want to waste a year and hence attempted it this time itself,” said Jagdeesh Pataskar, Himanshu’s father.
Himanshu’s story is also a narrative of how his parents fought against all odds to give their child the best of education. “He was initially not accepted in any school. But Ramanbaug officials admitted him and that is where he studied till Class X. I took voluntary retirement once he was in Class V and since then every morning, I take him to school, stand there till his classes get over and then get him back home. He can’t hold a spoon or pen in his hand and so eating or writing is hard for him. Hence, someone needs to be there with him all the time,” said Jagdeesh.
Himanshu’s mother runs a small business and she has adjusted her work hours accordingly. “I work from 1 pm to 5:30 pm. We have to take him to a physiotherapist almost twice a week. Life is hard for him. He sees other students his age walking and playing. But it was our decision not to put him in a special school. He is a very brave boy. Not once in his life has he ever complained of anything. He is extremely hardworking and has learnt how to use mobile phones and calculators despite his disability. We will be enrolling him for BCom,” said Sangeeta, Himanshu’s mother.