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Making the most of life

Mansi Saraf does not ever let her handicap crush her spirit. Prema K on this special youngster.

india Updated: May 22, 2007 12:56 IST
Prema K

She’s like any 22-year-old girl awaiting her T.Y.B.Com results, except for the fact that she has cerebral palsy. This has affected her speech and body movements.

I first heard about Mansi Saraf when she was making her transition from the Spastics school to a school for normal kids.

Full of hope Mansi was considered a smart and intelligent kid who needed to be in touch with kids of the same IQ level as her. Being a friendly, talkative and helpful child, the students and teachers at St Joseph’s convent, Bandra, welcomed her instinctively into their fold.

Mansi says, “They were very supportive and never made me feel out of place. I was treated like a normal kid and even participated in the annual day and sports day functions.” Not surprisingly, she scored a cool 81 per cent in her standard X board exams despite her handicap.

I met her at this stage in her life. She had got admission to Mithibai College. “I wanted to take up science but my parents and teachers discouraged me from doing that.

“They felt I wouldn’t be able to handle the practicals because it requires a high degree of accuracy. I use an electronic typewriter to answer my ex am papers. I hated the thought of taking up arts. So commerce seemed the next best option,” she had told me.

Feeling of being used She was looking forward to this phase of her life..new teachers and friends. But soon she realised life in college was very different from school. “I felt slightly left out at times. Some of the guys and girls did not even speak to me. I made a few friends but was never invited to birthday parties and other outings with them. So I didn’t really have friends to hang out with in college. I never went to college proms too.” But she appreciates her teachers’ acts of kindness towards her.

“Most of the time, they gave me a few important questions before the exams. My friends always called me up and behaved extra-friendly then.. they wanted those questions.

Initially, I passed on the questions to them but stopped when I started feeling they were merely using me.” Inspiration But Mansi holds a few cousins and her sister, Pujita, very close to her heart. “Except for my sister, they’re all older than me. I’m very comfortable with people who are older than me.”

Mansi confesses to a ‘deep down in the dumps’ feeling at times. “I feel frustrated sometimes. But my parents tell me — “How will you instill hope in other handicapped people, if you give up like that?” This makes me bounce back with a vengeance.” Mansi plans to enroll for a Masters in Educational Technology CA (MET-CA) at the SNDT College after her university results are declared.

She’s enjoying her vacation but is also keeping herself busy with a bit of work.

“I’m doing some freelancing work for people..translation and data entry. I might take up a vacation job soon. It feels nice to earn some pocket money. I also want to start saving up a bit,” she ends.