By Romina Mayani Nankani, CYE-CYL

Coffee in hand and notepad at the ready, I met with Sangeeta Khiani to talk about her fascinating journey; one that I knew about, but hearing it as I did, was something else.

The first thing she says is, “You know what? It’s International Day for People with Disabilities and here we are chatting! You can’t imagine how blessed I feel”.

Sangeeta is an above congenital person from birth, meaning she was born with her right forearm missing. Did she let this stop her? Let me tell you: no, she did not.

Painting by Sangeeta

“I can’t stress enough how my family, since day one, did everything in their power to ensure I didn’t feel different from others. All the measures put into place, facing obstacles and the positivity to embrace who I was, never ceased up to this day. Being Indian, a disabled person and a woman, was a complicated concoction of ingredients, in those days. With the aid medical team in London, I was fitted with prosthesis at age two, and began learning how best to lead a normal life. There on I had two options to choose from:

1. I could sit in a corner and let life go by, or;

2. Take the harder road, challenge myself and go against the odds.”

So, Option 2 it was! Her teachers throughout her schooling years worked effortlessly to ensure inclusivity in P.E., Home Economics and other physical activities. She received endless support from friends too.

A few years ago however, Sangeeta was diagnosed with acute tendonitis on her left arm due to overuse, causing severe back and neck pain and restricting her movement. “This was the first time I hit a low period in my life. The flexible mobility and independence I had worked so hard for, was being revoked. Who would be able to understand how I felt? Everything around me became a struggle simply because my mind was thinking ‘defeated’. My dear friend Bhavna Nagrani had an idea and directed me to Kyrone Watson.”

Kyrone is a personal trainer. He studied and researched Sangeeta’s case and was willing to take on the challenge to train her and build muscle strength. “Kyrone changed my life! The doctors in London saw my progress and fitted me with a training prosthesis. The first time I trained with it, I was overwhelmed.  THIS is how able-bodied people do it! What a feeling! I have continued training and working on my thought process to be able to continue living an optimal life. I could say so much more but we’d take up the entire magazine.

“Let me add this for those reading: Believe in yourself; don’t let anyone prevent your growth just because they think you are different – and actually, no one can.” Sangeeta encourages.

Sangeeta is currently a businesswoman. She cooks, swims and is an extremely talented artist. Her artwork is beyond breath-taking and I can say, it’s a true reflection of her perseverant and ‘go-getter’ nature.