April 7, 2016
It was in July 2010 that I saw this girl, tall and pretty, but nervous, walking into my class of Masters in Mass Communication and Journalism at Panjab University. She did not look up from the floor, walked to the last bench and sat quietly. There was something odd about the way she walked. During the roll call I came to know her name, Akshima Tyagi.
It was during our fresher’s party. We all had to do a ramp walk and it was her turn. She stood up and said, “I have a sprain in my foot. Please excuse me”.
I for one was not that kind of a person who would go and ask what had happened because the way her feet looked. A year passed and we only had a few interactions. Since we were classmates, we had exchanged each other’s phone number. Both of us were living in university hostels, but in different ones.
Then came her birthday of 2011. All of us had forgotten about it. I got a call asking me if I would take a cake and meet Akshima at her hostel as she was feeling lonely. I called a few friends and we were there, sitting outside her hostel, gossiping and laughing. That is how our friendship started.
One day, Akshima and I were alone and she told me how her feet got distorted. She told me how she did not have any sensation in both her feet. No shoes could fit her well and so she mostly wore slippers. She had a problem in walking and it was noticeable and she needed assistance at times.
Akshima discovered her disease a year later what it was. She was diagnosed with CMT-Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. A disease so rare that not many scientists are working on finding its cure.
While all of us had taken up jobs and moved on with our lives, she was at home, struggling with major surgeries in her feet, every second month. She underwent five surgeries in two years to make her feet straight so that she can walk somewhat normal.
Akshima Tyagi is a strongest personality I know of and she has inspired me every second that I have been with her. This is her story in the video below.
(edited by Mr Abhijit Chatterjee)