By Uma Purkayastha
Shillong (Meghalaya) , Sept 21 : Recently, I came in contact with a wonderful teacher who is both deaf and dumb and has been teaching in a school for the handicapped in Shillong for the last 18 years. Despite the disability, her strong determination and sincerity took her to the height where she is today. Let us hear the story of grit in her own words:
I am Sona Choudhury. I was born in Shillong at Roberts Hospital with a host of physical deformities and handicaps. I was born deaf with vision in only one eye and one side of my face is paralyzed since birth with a stiff neck and only a single kidney functions in my body. My father was a businessman and my mother is a housewife.
At the age of four, I was admitted to Kolkata Deaf and Dumb School. I stayed there with my mother for 6 years in a rented flat. My mother also endeavoured to learn speech therapy so that she could communicate with me. This eventually proved to be decisive. I had a strong urge to read, write and speak which gave my mother an added inspiration for mastering the speech therapy on me. The result was instantly effective. I stood first in the class. I also made a special mark as a painter and won a number of prizes.
In 1989, for some unavoidable circumstances, we came back to Shillong where I joined Laban Bengalee Girl’s Higher Secondary School where it was difficult for me to adjust with my disabilities. But I was determined to give my level best to be successful.
In 1997 I passed my HSLC examination in 2nd division and in 2001 I got through the HSSLC examination in 2nd division. My dreams of climbing the ladder of success was growing more, so in 1998 I even went to pursue the 6 months Computer courses from Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Hearing Handicapped from Mumbai After returning to Shillong I joined the DTP course of 3 months at Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Cultural Centre, Quinton Road, Shillong.
I never thought in my life that I will become a teacher until in the year 2002 when I was being called by (L) Bro. M. D.O Donohue to join in SCHHC as an assistant Teacher. It was such a wonderful moment for me to be with children and flow together in this beautiful valley with the Hearing Impaired Children.
Then, in the following year, I also equipped myself by completing the sign language 3 months course from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.The training and exposure which I got after this boost my skills and my love for the teaching profession also grew. So, I was aspiring to complete my Degree course from IGNOU in 2003 and yes I did achieved this feat in 2007 in first class.
This does not mean that I had only a good sailing in my life. Of course, I had to face many ups and downs but I decided not to stop myself in climbing higher. So, in 2011 I decided to go for B.Ed SEDE, NEHU and worked harder to achieve this goal. Here too by God’s grace and continuous support from my parents and my fellow teachers I got through it in 2015 in First Class.
According to me being deaf is not a Disability ,but it is the greatest gift to me from the Almighty.
‘Deafness is nothing, but just as an inability to hear.
People say I have no language but I have met a lot of other Deaf people whom I feel comfortable by speaking in our own language which is ‘Sign language’. I have learned my own language which my parents and friends can understand as sign language .
Sign language is the best of language it connects every being in a special way. Finally I would like to end with the words from the greatest educationist Swami Vivekananda-“People laugh at me because I am different; I laugh at them because they are all the same.”
Teacher’s Day was celebrated a few days ago and I feel dedicated physically challenged teachers should come to the notice of the Education Department for worthy recognition.