“Keep your hopes high and always stay positive”
Tarang Kashyap has had a long journey of recovery after his spinal cord injury. When undergoing rehabilitation at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, our rooms were right across each other. We worked with our assigned physiotherapist and occupational therapist during the daytime. During late afternoon and evenings, we were one of the few residents who would always hang out in the campus.
The one thing which is stuck in my mind as a memory of Tarang is ‘keep trying… you will get at it eventually’. Because of our cervical spinal cord injury i.e quadriplegia, we cannot move our fingers. I was new at the rehab centre and was stumped when asked to lift small blocks of wood and tiny metal rods and put them in a slot. They would just slip through my fingers. But this young boy would practice picking up kidney beans and a few other smaller beans with his hands. I wondered how! His full-time helper told me that Tarang has got to this stage after a lot of practice. Things will slip from your fingers, but you have to keep trying by using your wrist-movement and eventually you will also be able to do it. Today I can pick up a peanut. Such life lessons can be learned much easily when you have seen the results firsthand. Everything and anything that looks impossible today, can become a possibility if you just keep trying and do not give up.
I can go on about Tarang, a Warrior on Wheels, as an embodiment of persistence and hope you’ll excuse me for not keeping his introduction brief 🙂
Tarang Kashyap’s #LifeBeyondSCI
Before I got my Spinal Cord Injury, I was living in a nuclear family with my mom, dad and elder brother in New Delhi. I was studying at Cambridge School and was preparing for engineering entrance exams. I used to be a studious computer techie, but I was also good at athletics, captained our football team at school, played zonal/ state-level sports and have won many medals. I liked creative activities such as dancing, singing, drawing and painting. I have won many computer competitions and also received the International Best Child Artist Award.
I was 16 years old when I met with an accident. I was returning home with my family from my cousin sister’s marriage when this incident happened. It was early morning, and I was sleeping in the back seat along with my brother when our car met with an accident at the GT Karnal Road in New Delhi. The reason for the accident was unknown, but the officials made their speculations for the record. This tragic incident still brings me chills. My brother, who is just two years older than me, handled the situation by himself after regaining consciousness. He helped me and my parents to reach the hospital for proper treatment as soon as possible.
My parents expired on the spot. But I got to know about it a year later when my health improved, my ventilator was removed and I was in the recovery phase. My brother used to hide things from me and bear the pain and everything by himself so that I could focus on my recovery. I was operated on in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, after which I came to know about my Spinal Cord Injury.
I was admitted to the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre for nearly 40 months for my initial rehabilitation.
Life beyond spinal cord injury
Life after Spinal Cord Injury and that too quadriplegia is quite difficult until you learn and find out ways for managing things on your own. My brother is always supportive and a booster for me. He keeps on motivating and pushing me to my limits. Because of his motivation, I organised the first wheelchair modelling show by Warrior on Wheels in India and performed at many events and stages. His motivation and my passion also encouraged me to pursue my interest in sports. I have won many medals in para-athletics and para table tennis championships. Along with my brother, I operate a business consultancy which works on multi-domain projects like assistive devices, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, startup boost and consultancy, solar power, an academy for entrepreneurs/ learners and many more.
I love travelling too, but it has a major constraint of accessibility with it. The last destination which I visited before the pandemic/ lockdown was God’s own country – Kerala. It’s mesmerising scenic beaches were quite accessible for wheelchair users. South Indian dishes with a tinge of curry leaves in it along with coconut water makes it unique and memorable. Polite, gentle people always ready to help, along with amazing scenic green hills, the company of my brother and good friends made it to one of the most memorable places in my list.
Each and every place becomes fun with good company and when you know how to enjoy it. Naming a specific destination will be an injustice but who won’t like to go for a world tour or sunburn festival along with friends!
Message for people who are newly injured
My only message for newly injured is “Keep your hopes high and always stay positive and motivated”.