We feature several stories that are inspiring and Swarnalatha’s is surely one of those out of the ordinary stories. A mum who has seen beyond the word “Limitation”.
As I begin my conversation over a telecon, I am greeted with a very cheerful ‘hello’ that puts me in the right frame of mind to be positive on this interview.
Swarna begins sharing, “I love doing many things. I love writing short stories too. I had a son and I was this working professional in a MNC in Bangalore. One day I started noticing in the kitchen that I was dropping things unnecessarily. It increased to a greater level in the subsequent days. Then I had this fever and even lost balance in my limbs. After multiple tests and delayed diagnosis, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Neither my husband nor I had been aware of anything like that in family history and we were so unprepared to deal with life at that point of time.
My son, Gagan was just two years old. I was told I would lose mobility and I couldn’t be normal again. It affects people between the age of 18 to 40 and people could be affected with paralysis, numbness or even blindness and simplest of the tasks would be seemingly daunting. I had to leave my job and things were hard on me.
However the biggest point is acceptance. Once I had dealt with it I could deal with things or situations better.”
Swarnalatha is not just an individual who has picked up the fallen strings of her life but has also started an NGO – Swarga Foundation – to improve and help the lives of several individuals who are affected by neuro-muscular disorders.
“After my son and after being completely aware of the condition, I decided to go in for a second child too. Many questioned how will I be able to manage but I am glad we parents stood by the decision. Gagan and Gaana are really close to each other. In fact Gaana, my daughter has always seen me on with a walker/ wheel chair. She is 5 years old and the sweetest song of my life. The kids have become mature.
Perhaps Gagan who was initially disturbed on the chaos prevailing at home accepted gradually and now manages everything. He is 9 years old and even though I am away for months together, they are responsible and never miss school or their regular routines.
I don’t pack tiffins, I don’t dress them up like other moms. But I am a mom who cares and wants her children to be independent and happy. We have help at home but many times when I am struggling to wear my shoe laces or something so normal, I see my daughter pitching in to tie for me.
My son is a state-level sportsperson and I am proud about it. I do feel sad when I see on social media and others talking of vacations and I know my kids are missing on all those little joys.
For over 29 years, I was walking, running, dancing and things were different. We have been four daughters and things weren’t easy too on my parents. But I feel parenting has changed and so has how we need to perceive life. My kids and husband are my strength. My kids keep telling me often, “We want to see you walk.” It keeps ringing in my ears.
I remember when Gagan was very lonely, he didn’t speak to anyone. Perhaps all this affected him too much and he had realized his mother was no longer going to be like other mums. I had myself too gone into a bout of depression. Then at a venue where I was invited as a guest speaker, after my presentation, my son could see that his mother had received standing ovation. I feel slowly things started changing in his eyes.
With regards to my NGO, I have a team who manages the daily activities. We are very serious on the work we do. There are a lot of people who are affected with this condition and they don’t even have funds for treatment. Even when I am away at the hospital I do the planning, strategies and have it implemented by the team. The team has others too who are able-bodied and individuals with disabilities, but all are committed and interested in taking this initiative forward.
My husband, Guruprasad has been a pillar of strength. For that matter, I did move ahead because he kept pushing me to think beyond and what I could do in life despite the adversities. He is part of the trust that we manage.
I am on Ayurveda treatment and that has helped me a lot. I don’t know how long will I live or how healthy will I be? When the kids and I are together we sing together as we three love music.
I hope we all dance together someday…..”
I could only muster ‘Amen’ to that statement.
Swarnalatha, in conversation with Reshma Krishnamurthy from Mums and stories. We wish Swarna a beautiful journey ahead and wishing her to inspire lot more individuals in life.