People often complain about their gadgets, endless needs, trivial daily life issues and in general, are tense abut everything. Its all futile. I want to tell them it’s all meaningless – just be happy! If being differently-abled didn’t stop me, what stops you from being happy? In conversation with Inclov, Sai Kaustuv, facing osteogenesis imperfecta (“brittle bone disease”), talks about his extraordinary life, his rarest-of-rare physical disability, and his heartening message for his fellow humans!
Sai Kaustuv – The story of defiance of a differently-abled champion
A child prodigy, coveted graphic designer, classical singer, acclaimed composer, renowned motivational speaker, recipient of multiple awards, author of ‘My Life, My Love, My Dear Swami’, a book translated into 7 languages, recipient of an appreciation letter from PM Narendra Modi and named amongst the 4 leadership icons of the world; 26-year-old, Sai Kaustuv Dasgupta, is a achiever par excellence and well beyond his years.
Take into consideration – He has endured 50 fractures since childhood, is 80% differently-abled, completely bedridden and can only move with a motorised wheelchair – all of the above seems surreal now.
My life is not only about my suffering. A self-taught graphics designer, (design with the help of only the thumb and two fingers of my left hand), singing is my passion (composed more than 130 songs) while giving motivational speeches to students and professionals has helped me share my story of positivity, achievement and most importantly dispelled the notion that people with disability cant do anything.
People need to smile more often – not the selfie smile – but the one that comes from within. I often see people complain about their gadgets, endless needs, trivial daily life issues and in general, are tense abut everything. I want to tell them it’s all futile – be happy. If I can smile, so can you. If through my motivational speeches, I manage to even inspire 1 person to be happy, I will be content.”
How difficult has the journey been? Reaction from peers and society?
The life of people with disability is not easy in our society. From childhood, every day has been an obstacle. Friends and relatives consistently ask me about my health, but I want to reiterate that Sai Kaustav is not all about his disability. It irritates me that the only impression people carry about me is of my disability. I am a firm believer in the majesty of the Lord. And by His will, I have replied to all the naysayers with my achievements and my fighting spirit. Through perseverance and strong will, I made a difference by moving beyond my physical limitations. Positivity, self-belief and energy from within has made me a better person.
Any incident that changed the way you looked at life?
Around 2009, my body started deteriorating rapidly. The joints started fixing and my shoulder and back became fixed. For the next 6 years till 2015, I was confined to the same bed! Same people, same routine, everything was grim. Those days gave me immense strength and made me what I am today. I understood the value of life while restricted to that cot in my room. Eventually, I willed myself to get up and broke apprehensions and barriers and came out of the room.
Being a differently-abled taught me the value of LIFE..
What motivates you and provides this superhuman positivity?
It pains me to see the way people with disabilities are treated in India. I am disappointed by the inabilities of the ‘abled’ people to see or appreciate the skills of a differently-abled person. I can do what ‘physically able’ can do. I can type with only one finger, create graphics with only one finger, lie on bed and design, sit on a wheelchair and give motivational talks online – how am I any different? Suffering has made me super able – almost superhuman.
I want to tell people that they need to lose something to celebrate what their gains. Not for a moment have I felt different, and I know from experience, people with disabilities are better than the able ones. Suffering has many surprises – feel it and it will change the way you are!
What are the most cherished moments of your life?
I cherish every moment of my life. But, the smile on my parents face when I received the best child singer award remains the most cherished one. The sight of happiness and relief in their eyes will always remain with me. Secondly, getting congratulated and an appreciation letter from PM Narendra Modi for my book in 2015 was a special moment. Next, receiving the Cavinkare Ability Mastery Award 2017 in recognition of excellence achieved against all odds and being named amongst the 4 leadership icons of the world with disability are other moments that I remember with fondness.
Any message for people who endure such trying times everyday?
My bones first fractured at the age of three and a half months. Over the next year, i had three more fractures and had to discontinue my studies after 12th as my bones became so fragile that they would break at any touch or impact. I had to give up my childhood passion for dancing. But every travesty has a silver lining – I started singing and won the ‘Dishari Award’ for the ‘Best Child Singer of West Bengal’ in 1999-2000!
“To others It may seem that I was suffering, but for me it was learning. My suffering has taught me the value of life. The turbulent experience has made me understand the value of LIFE.
Inclov is doing a great job towards differently-abled accessibility and assimilation in society. Its a great platform which allows people with disabilities to meet new people, and make friends. It feels great to see them trying to bring happiness, bring a change in the lives of the differently-abled.
I may be disabled by body but my mind is free to fly. And it soars high, everyday!
Sai Kaustuv faces a rare bone disorder. But, that doesn’t define or deter him. He is different yet the same as everyone around him.