Cerebral palsy and his parents’ poor financial condition kept Sachin Kumar, now 33, away from school for 15 years. But this perseverant math prodigy now wants to join the mainstream society.
While many of us whip out our calculators for even double digit calculation, Sachin can mentally multiply upto three digits, within seconds. This is despite being developmentally challenged.
He can also tell you which day would fall on any date from 1990 to 2040, without referring to a calendar. Ask how he does this and his innocent reply is “apne aap (on my own)”.
Sachin’s parents knew that despite his disability, their son was gifted.
“He had a sharp memory since childhood. He would remember birthdays of every child in the family and help his mother with accounts. Once you told him something, he would never forget it,” said Sachin’s 65-year-old father Ashok Kumar, a security guard at a pharmaceutical company.
Until 18 months ago, Sachin, who has studied till Class 8, did not have the confidence to interact with strangers as he had rarely left home.
“But now, he runs errands for his mother and can even operate the computer,” says his father proudly.
His training at NGO Sparsh’s special school in Rohini for three years polished him and brought him out of his shell.
“Our focus is on making such individuals self-reliant and making society realise that they deserve love, not ridicule,” says MP Singh, the NGO’s president.
Sachin now wants to shoulder some of his family’s responsibility by finding a job. Currently, his father’s salary of R6,000-7,000 per month and his younger sister’s job sustain the family. Another sister is married.
Ask him what he wants to do, he says “Kuch bhi (anything)”. But prejudice against disabled people does limit his opportunities though he makes products such as incense sticks and natural holi colours from flowers at his school. He can maintain an inventory and do some elementary administrative work.
Shilpa Arora, principal of Sachin’s school said, “awareness and sensitivity towards the disabled has increased in the past few years. But there is still a long way to go. Many employers question such people’s efficiency but they can be trained and relied upon to do different things. They just need a chance.”