Creating her own future
By Sanuj Hathurusinghe
Ceylon Today Features
Life, for anyone, is not smooth sailing. It is a bumpy ride with obstacles of varying sizes scattered all along. That is the way of life. We human beings surmount these adversities along the way with courage, both physical and psychological.
What qualifies as a life obstacle may differ from one person to another. Let's take a typical school goer's day for example. Waking up early, getting yourself ready for school, breakfast, go to school, take notes, lunch, after school tuition classes if any, come home, play, study, supper and bed; all these tasks become mundane for us once we get used to the routine. This, for many of us, is not a challenge.
Now imagine doing the same mundane routine with no arms and a leg. Now, the complexity of it all changes. How would you brush your teeth? How would you eat? How would you write or how would you even turn a page in your text book without arms? All the ordinary tasks now become almost impossible. Some might even say so, that it is impossible to do those things without the aid of your limbs.
To Rashmi Nimesha this supposition is the reality. Every day she lives the day that many of us can't even begin to imagine. Nimesha was born with only one properly functioning limb, her left leg. She doesn't have both her arms and her right leg has stopped growing half way through. What's courageous about Nimesha is that she hasn't let any of her physicality, or rather what lacks of it, to discourage her in any way.
She studies in Eheliyagoda Central College, Ratnapura, in grade 11 and just like any other student in her class, she is getting herself ready for the upcoming Ordinary Level exams. She draws, she writes poems and songs, she sings and she is a brainiac. She has won gold in international competitions making our country proud.
How does she do it? She wears a prosthetic as her right leg which allows her to stand straight and walk without leaning on to crutches. How does she write, hold a pen, a spoon or hold anything for that matter? She uses her functioning left leg of course.
There is a special desk and a chair made for her in her school, her home and in tuition classes she attends. When asked how she is coping Nimesha replied that now she has gotten used to it.
"I first realized that I am not like others when I was in Montessori. I watched my Montessori teacher make stuff and tried to follow her. I didn't have arms so I used my leg instead" Nimesha recalled the days she first used her leg as a helping hand.
Her parents, Sarath Gunawardana and Dhammika Podimanike, are teachers. It played a big part in them wanting to give her the best education affordable. Her father recalled the early days and the struggle they had to face. "Prior to her birth we had no idea that Nimesha is a different child.
It was quite a shock and both me and my wife knew nothing about how to deal with it. I frequented almost all the children's homes around the country just to get an idea about how to raise her and teach her" said Sarath.
Both Sarath and Podimanike have found these visits to be of little help. Since Nimesha is only physically challenged and not psychologically, the parents then decided to educate her foreseeing her education will one day come in handy. Nimesha's first hurdle was her grade five scholarship in 2012 which she triumphed with flying colours.
As a result, she managed to get into a leading national school in the area and her heroics then caught the interest of the media. "We didn't want to give publicity to our daughter. We wanted her to live her life like a normal child but after the grade five scholarship, things changed" recalled Sarath.
Nimesha deserves the spotlight not because she is different from us but because of her talents. She writes songs, composes and sings them happily. "When I taught music to Nimesha's elder sister, little Nimesha too came and listened attentively.
Later the two sisters would write four-line poems and would sing them together. Nimesha eventually learned to play music instruments too. She plays the keyboard with toes of her left leg" Podimanike revealed.
The public had the opportunity to listen to her own songs in her own voice in two of her previous music concerts.
The third one will be held on 24 February 2018 in Avissawella with the collaboration of some of the giants in the music industry such as Nawarathna Gamage, Nadeeka Guruge, Nalaka Saji Jayasinghe, Dumal Warnakulasuriya and Darshana Nuwan Dissanayaka.
"It is a privilege to work with such big names in the industry. They correct me, guide me and help me altogether to become better" said Nimesha humbly. "I actually thought that she would be intimidated by the big names in her concert. Once I even suggested dialling it down a bit but she wouldn't hear any of it. She wants the best and insisted on it. Instead of getting intimidated she gets pumped up" said Sarath in amazement. Nimesha along with three other boys, represented Sri Lanka in the 'Global IT Challenge 2017' competition held in Vietnam last September. The competition saw entries from 14 other countries. The only medal Sri Lanka was able to bag came through Nimesha. She won the Super Challenger Gold Medal during the competition.
Nimesha has high hopes for the future. Her musical concerts are not just to showcase her talents but to raise funds for a bionic arm. Specialists who have examined Nimesha have promised her a compatible bionic arm for her right arm. The procedure could only be carried out when she is 18 and fully grown. Nimesha hopes to raise necessary funds for the procedure which is 80 lakhs by 2020.
"Music is more of a passion for me. Currently, I'm not studying it as a subject but sure hope to continue singing. After O/Levels I wish to do A/Levels in Commerce and one day become a professional in the Management field" Nimesha revealed her hopes and dreams.
Having one or more limbs missing hasn't stopped many other people from achieving their life goals. The likes of Jonas McDavid, Nick Vujicic and Jessica Cox are fine examples for it. In time to come Nimesha too will write history with her brilliance. To know more about Nimesha, go to www.rashminimesha.com.
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