Srinivas was born normal, but a couple of days later he was struck with jaundice. He recovered, but over a period of time he developed Cerebral Palsy. That marked the beginning of a long and arduous journey for K.A. Chari and his wife. They were both woken up to the harsh realities of life.
Chari was a medical rep for a reputed pharma company. When he was transferred from Madras to Bangalore, Srinivas continued to undergo continuous physiotherapy as he had done since he was a child and perhaps, this early treatment proved to be immensely helpful. "I can vouch that to a great extent the therapies have helped my son. We used to take Srinivas to all the places including cinema theatres where he used to enjoy movies," says Chari. Then came the time for education. A normal school was ruled out because they just wouldn't take him in. He spent a few years in various special schools and then the thought occurred to Chari, "Why not better treatment for Srinivas? Why not in Bombay?" His sister lived in Andheri and there was this hospital in Colaba where treatment was possible. It was during their month long stay in Bombay that they came to know that there did exist a Spastics Society. In 1981, when Chari was transferred to Hyderabad, he decided that his wife and Srinivas would live in Bombay with his brother and that Srinivas would join the Spastics Society School there.
The Spastics Society of Karnataka started in 1981 and in 1984, when Chari was transferred back to Bangalore it turned out to be perfect. Srinivas was admitted immediately on his return from Bombay. Everything went smooth for the next few years. Srinivas passed his SSLC with a First Class, learnt his basics in computers and then "Moses The Messiah" came in touch with the family. If ever Chari could define something as a turning point of their lives, it was coming into contact with Subroto Bagcchi and Moses, then with Wipro.
Srinivas stood up to the challenge when he joined Wipro. He showed his willingness to learn and with Moses as his boss, the induction couldn't have been better. By the time Subroto and Moses left to form MindTree Consulting, Srinivas was well and truly on his way to being successful in his job. His bosses may have changed, but the understanding and acceptance of Srinivas continues. He's now 31-years old, four years with Wipro and a confirmed employee too.
What are the lessons one learns from this 'coming of age of Srinivas'? Many.
Chari and his wife have had to go through the most testing of times in their lives. "Power, Endurance, Patience and above all, meeting up to those challenges are the mainstays for parents of a spastic," says Chari. "The mental duress coupled with great amounts of physical strain experienced by parents of a spastic are different and can never be understood by others," he adds. They learn to adapt new methodologies within the environment, innovate to handle various situations. Chari narrates one such innovation, which in fact Srinivas not only enjoyed, but something that helped him physically. "We purchased a small basket chair with arms to make him sit. We hoped he would learn to stand and strengthen his leg muscles. But he kept falling off. So we bought him a toy jeep, with pedals. He loved it. Though it didn't help him stand, he didn't fall off either. Importantly, he enjoyed pedaling his way around the house and that gave his legs the precious therapeutic exercise he needed."
"I must say that Srinivas is now almost 90% independent," says Chari. Apparently, the youngster is quite systematic about everything he does, be it at home or at the office. Chari attributes this to Srinivas' perseverance nature from childhood. This makes them proud. To think that at one point of time, when Srinivas was just one-year old both Chari and his wife went through nightmarish experiences in bringing up Srinivas. "I felt like committing suicide. But my will power and wisdom prevailed upon me and I erased such foolish thoughts," says Chari.
Today there's a smile on Chari's face; a gleam in his eyes. They've suffered no doubt, but time has helped them passed innumerable tests. And as a reminder of this journey he underwent, he now helps out at the Spastics Society of Karnataka. His is a case study to other parents with spastic children, with whom he interacts closely.
Possibly reminding others that the best way out of a difficulty is through it.