Published: 21st December 2017
Banker, cricketer and chess-wiz, Cerebral Palsy no dampener for this 32-year-old
A chess wizard, an M Phil graduate, an entrepreneur and activist — there's no barrier too big for Karthik Chandrasekar
Love yourself — that was the mantra that not only sustained Karthik Chandrasekaran for the last 32 years, but also helped him chase his dreams despite all the odds. When he was just two years old, Karthik was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
As the years went by, things didn't really get better. His parents always treated him equally and supported him, there were a lot of people who treated him just like anyone else, but there were a few who were mean to him and he couldn't avoid it. "I learnt to accept it. I always try to be friendly with everyone and smile at everyone," he says and adds, "I was jobless for five years. Many people rejected me since I didn't have a clear voice. My typing speed was slow and I had issues with travelling. So, I kept studying. I finished my M Phil and completed many other diplomas in that time."
Karthik was just two years old when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Also, this 32-year-old has been fighting to make beaches and other public places accessible to disabled people
Karthik has also won many chess tournaments and received the academic excellence award from the Spastic Society of Mumbai. Being an avid cricket fan, it was a dream come true for him to meet and play friendly matches with legends like Sachin Tendulkar. As if that weren't enough, Karthik then started collecting books until he had his own library and even landed a job at Standard Chartered Bank. Talk about determination! But there's no end to his list. Karthik's next plan is to act in movies or get into the theatre.
When asked how he was able to keep his spirits up and keep doing what he loved, he says, "There were many times I felt so low because people rejected me. But one factor that helped me cope with everything was my self-esteem and self-love. I always make sure I do something to keep my mind busy, otherwise all these negative thoughts creep up," he says.
In the beginning, I found it too hard to convince myself about my condition. Every time I stepped out, people would look at me with pity, like I was an alien from Mars, but my mother stood by me through everything
Karthik Chandrasekaran, Scope International
Now that he has become an inspiration to many others in similar situations, Karthik has made it his responsibility to fight for their basic rights. "There are so many places of public interest in our country which are not disabled-friendly. It's improving, but we've got a long way to go. Public transport, theatres, malls and stadiums should be accessible to all," he says.
Karthik has a lot to look forward to in life. But if there's one thing he's longing for, it is to find a soulmate. "I have faced a lot of rejection because of my condition. I know it's tough but it is possible to lead a good and fun life for a disabled person. It might be risky, but everything in life is risky," he adds.