Updated: Jun 27
Story by Vivekanand Nareddula
I am an entrepreneur, a software developer, a gamer, a swimmer, and an MBA student at IIM Bangalore- all while being a bilateral amputee.
Right after completing my engineering degree, I landed a job at an IT firm in Hyderabad and ran a food truck of my own at the side, until in September 2018, my life changed forever.
It was the day of Vinayak Chaturthi, my entire neighbourhood was lit up and celebration was in the air. I was working from home that day and mid-work I needed a data cable. I asked my friend, who lived on the floor above my apartment, to throw a data cable down into my balcony. When he threw it, it got stuck on one of the high-tension wires.
At that moment, without thinking twice, I picked up a mop that was lying nearby and tried to get the data cable out. The mop came in contact with the high-tension wires and what happened next was a blur.
I had been electrocuted and suffered severe burns on both my hands. What followed was 20 days of ICU visits, bandages, and excruciating pain.
The doctors tried to save my right hand, but it was severely burnt, and they had no choice but to amputate it. My parents were shattered but I was undeterred. So what if I lost my right hand? I would teach myself to do everything with my left. There was still hope.
It was only after a couple of weeks that the tissues of my left hand collapsed, and I began losing alot of blood. The doctors had to amputate my left hand as well. My world came crashing down.
I saw my parents break down, and the only thought going through my mind was that I didn't want to be dependent on someone else for the simplest everyday activities, for the rest of my life. My mother already fed me my meals, helped me change and looked after me day and night. I couldn't bear to think that I'd be helpless for the rest of my life.
I had always been independent and ready to take on new challenges, so I took this in my stride. Yes, I had big hurdles ahead, but I was ready to take them on head-on.
I began using my feet to type, being a tech-geek, I got myself the latest gadgets and began doing my research on how to make doing everyday things easier for me, I had to adapt to the “normal”.
But it wasn’t easy. I struggled to hold a pen, button my shirt, even plugging my phone in for charging was a real task! Yet, I kept trying to do it all by myself repeatedly and soon mastered it. I even bought my own car and now drive about on my own.
But the people around me weren't always kind. Some spoke of how God had been very unkind to me, some looked at me with sympathy and said that my life was over now without my hands, while some just stared. The children got scared of me and refused to come near.
But I proved them all wrong. I landed a job at a bank in July 2019, but the idea of working a monotonous 9-5 job, with no new challenges, didn’t sit well with me. It was then that I began my own start-up, “Helplena”, which offers digital services such as web design, branding, and digital marketing, because I wanted to showcase my skills to the world and not have to prove myself everyday at work. There were no limits, only challenges I had to overcome.
I am still learning. I feel like a baby who is learning something new every day. The people around me are no longer sympathetic but take pride in how far I've come. Every day I move out of my comfort zone and triumph over the hurdles I face!