'Quarantined for 40 years,' this wheelchair-bound teacher is an inspiration!

Updated: Jun 20, 2020, 13:02 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

In a Humans of Bombay post shared on Facebook, Rajeev Poddar said that he was just nine years old when suffered from paralysis and lost his ability to walk

Picture/Humans of Bombay-Facebook
Picture/Humans of Bombay-Facebook

If staying indoors amid the Coronavirus outbreak is taking a toll on you, Rajeev Poddar’s story should be followed as an inspiration to keep your spirits up while at home at such a time. In a Humans of Bombay post shared on Facebook, Poddar said that he was just nine years old when suffered from paralysis and lost his ability to walk. As he was not able to sit for more than 30 minutes and was confined to a wheelchair, he had to drop out of school.

“I didn't understand what it meant, but mom broke down– it had come out of nowhere. So mom and dad hoped it'd go as suddenly as it came,” he said in the post. Even though his parents ran from pillar to post to find a cure for his illness, nothing worked for Poddar and as he said in the beginning of the post, he has been on ‘quarantine’ for past 40 years.  “At home, I depended on others for the smallest of tasks. I couldn't go to school or meet my friends, which got to me, but my family struggled too. As I got bigger, it got difficult to carry me and I knew my treatment was affecting our finances.”

And as Poddar had decided early in his life that he will not complain about it, he decided to do something with his life that would lead him to help thousands of people. “So at 14, I told myself, 'This is the life you have. You can either crib and make it worse or do something about it.' So I did the only thing I could– read; books, newspapers, anything.”

Even though he kept himself engaged with reading his friends’ textbooks, he felt lost and helpless thinking that they would move ahead in life, complete their education and get jobs and he wouldn’t. Then at the age of 23, he found his life’s purpose one afternoon when a boy approached him asking him to teach a lesson in mathematics. “I'd never taught before, but it seemed easy. I added some humor to make it fun and they loved it so much, they asked their tuition teacher to stop coming and asked me to teach– I happily agreed!”

And word spread of Poddar’s tution classes around his hometown in Kolkata after which his batches increased from 10 students to 100 students. He said that he never charged for his classes and he earned money through trading stocks. As he was passionate about teaching, he later founded ‘Knowledge Capsule’ to help his students learn about current affairs. “My students kept me sane!” Poddar said in the post. “I believe that most learning happens through teaching-- and I don't ever want to stop.”

Unfortunately he had to reduce his batches as his health deteriorated. But that did not stop him from harbouring his passion. “So now I create short awareness videos on Youtube on topics like 'Helicopter Money', 'Jio', and even 'Covid-19'.”

About the pandemic, he said he understands that it is difficult to be caged at home. “But, take it from someone who’s always been ‘quarantined’– if I could come so far from within the 4 walls of my home, imagine how far you'll go once you're out. Stay strong.”

Shared on Thursday, the post garnered more than 49,000 likes on Facebook and was shared over 7,800 times. The users commenting on the post praised Poddar’s grit for making something out of his life.

Here's how netizens reacted to the post

An influenced user commented on the post saying, “This is some serious serious grit and will. My god what a story. I almost shuddered reading how it came all of a sudden and just changed your entire life. Im still not being able to process it. Yes its frightened me but im amazed.. Amazed at what you do....What you did out of this. Immense respect. Immense to you. It truly helps me understand the word gratitude and never taking anything for granted.(sic)”

Another user said, “Such an inspiration! You have touched the lives of so many people. You are an amazing resilient individual who took a negative circumstance and turned it into something positive to help others. Sometimes certain things in our lives happen for a reason. Much respect to you sir.

A third user said, “What a kind hearted person so much love and care in his words towards other human beings! This is why you are a great teacher, you don’t lecture, you explain from your heart with plain and caring honesty. It is a gift. Wishing you all the best with your health!”

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