By LB THAPA FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM
Jhamak Ghimire has achieved seemingly impossible feat of success by winning the Madan Puruskar, the nation’s most prestigious literary award for her autobiographical essays ‘Life, whether a thorn or a flower’. Jhamak has proved that nothing is impossible before hard work and strong determination.
Born in Dhankuta, 1980, with cerebral palsy; a group disorder that affects the functions of the brain and the nervous system. This rare physical disorder made her unable to stand on her feet and use both of her hands. Having been unable to go to school, she was forced to spend all the day at home.
Jhamak wanted to go to school like many other boys and girls, but physical disability confined her within the four walls of her house. But Jhamak was not an ordinary girl like many others. She was a girl who had a strong mental aptitude. She decided to read on her won. Since both of her hands did not support her intense urge to hold a book and pen in her hand, she trained her left foot to hold a pen.
Jhamak held a twig with the help of her toe and the middle finger and wrote on the ground. But her early effort was not welcomed by her parents. The society where Jhamak was born was ridden with superstition. When Jhamak began practicing to write Nepali letters on the ground, her parents opposed her. They stopped her saying writing on the ground would bring bad omen to the family.
Remembering the struggle of those early days, Jhamak has written in her autobiography. “I practiced for days and nights for years then only I learnt to write on paper with ease. Before that, I would write on open ground, using my toe. But writing on paper was like dream come true.
As days progressed, I saw awkward letters on the paper with delight. I heaved the sigh of relief when I wrote pages after pages. I was too much elated on my success that can’t be expressed in words”. Eventually her hard work paid off when she succeeded writing smoothly as if her feet were like hands.
Jhamak is a voracious reader. She reads about 12 hours or even more every day. “I read more than I write. I get tremendous amount of pleasure and satisfaction in reading. This is the reason why I read more. I have maintained a small library of my own where I have collected some books of my interest,” said Jhamak to a TV interview.
Jhamak was born in a society where women had no dignity. On top, a handicapped woman is no more than an eyesore. Ours is a society where a female child is considerate no more than a liability. At this crossroads, Jhamak had decided to stand against all odds. This was without doubt a daunting task indeed. Jhamak had decided to live a dignified life. For this, she determined to hold pen and create literature straight from her heart.
There was no one to commiserate with her predicaments. She imposed strict discipline and practiced hard to hone her literary skill. Although no one came forward to support her, she fought her battle on her own. She took everything as a challenge. To some extent, her disability came in the guise of blessing to Jhamak. A physically abled girl is expected to do many household activities. But Jhamak was free from this responsibility. She utilized her time to read, write and honing her skill to a great deal.
Jhamak’s story is a tale of hardship, humiliation, superstition and social discrimination against women, who are physically challenged in Nepal. Jamak’s autobiography is full of her experiences that she went through all her life. Now it is on the part of the government to take this issue seriously and ensure a dignified life to the people who are physically disabled.
In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of people across the country who are mentally or physically disable, need a lot of external support to uplift them. But, most unfortunately, our political leaders and high-ranking officials make people clapping on their speeches but do nothing concrete in favour of disabled people.
Jhamak has penned four collections of poems, a collection of essays, a collection of articles and two collections of stories. Today Jhamak has become successful to earn enough money to support her and her family from the earning of her books and articles published in various magazines and newspapers.
Meanwhile, she has also won several prestigious awards like ‘Kavitaram Bal Sahitya Prativa Puruskar-2055’, ‘Aswikrit Bichaar Sahitya Puruskar-2056’, ‘Captain Gopal Prasad Jankalyan Puruskar-2057’, ‘Prabal Gorkha Dakchhin Bahu, Chautho-2057’, ‘Apang Prativa Prativa 2057’, ‘Dr. Bimlawani Puruskar 2062’, ‘An honor from Nepal Government 2063’, ‘Chhetriya Prativa Puruskar 2065’, and ‘Dhankuta Prativa Puruskar 2066’.
By the dint of hard work Jhamak has proved that there is nothing like disability before strong willpower and hard work. If no one agrees with it then look at Jhamak Ghimire. Today Jhamak has become an epitome of success when many people think physical disability is curse and disabled are simply burden to the family.
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