KM Photo (special arrangement)

Srinagar: It has been years when a non-descript two-room flat at the migrant colony in Jagati reverberated with laughs.  

Come Sunday, cheers and claps echoed through the walls as people made a beeline to congratulate 18-year-old visually-impaired Parthi Dhar for standing first in her school in class XII exams.

From battling blindness to handling the financial crisis, Parthi has seen it all, but never gave up. “My mom has been my inspiration. She used to buy plastic alphabets and teach us by touching and feeling them. We never went to a blind school. We studied in a normal school. It was our conscious decision to be treated like normal kids,” said Parthi.

Parthi was allotted scribe after a lot of effort so that she can write board exams. “My mom worked hard for the scribe. It was hard to convince the Board of School Education. I had to dictate to the scribe so that he could write the answers. Still, by God’s grace I managed to sail through,” she said.

Life has been cruel to Parthi’s family. Parthi’s elder brother Akash too is visually impaired since childhood and the family had to battle hard to create a niche in an alien land.

“We consulted a doctor who advised me and my husband to get tested to find out why our children were born blind. But we decided against it. I am happy with my kids. Why should we live under the shadow of a doubt,” said Chandra Dhar, Parthi’s mother.

Chandra was in class XI when she migrated to Jammu from Handwara in 1990. They hired a room in Jammu before moving to quarters at Muthi migrant camp in Jammu.

“I quit my education after my BA first year because the atmosphere was not good. In 1995 I got married. In 1996 my son Akash was born. He too is visually impaired but he completed his graduation,” she said.

Despite limited income and meager relief, Chandra managed the household to provide the best of education to her kids. 

“No one has helped us. I used to wake up till 2 am to teach my kids. I used to buy apple to make my kids feel how the fruit look like so that they could write it.  Today my hard work has yielded results,” she said.

For Parthi, the battle is only half won. “My ultimate aim is to crack civil services. I want to show to the world that people with disabilities can be as good as any other person. I will be preparing for the civil services right from the word go,” she said.

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