It was a normal day on the job for engineer Sasitharan Chandran until he suffered a fall which left him with severe mobility issues.
That was seven years ago. Today, speaking from the wheelchair which has become his primary mode of movement, he recalls the hardships he went through and the losses he experienced, as well as his determination to pursue his ambitions despite his disability.
Sasitharan, 53, met with the accident while working in Indonesia.
“I lost all sensation in my legs,” he told MalaysiaNow. “Over time, the numbness became worse and walking became difficult.”
Sasitharan visited many local specialist hospitals but none of the doctors could tell him why he was unable to walk.
He then spent thousands of ringgit seeking traditional treatment in Kerala, India.
“They told me it was nothing serious and that I would be able to walk as usual,” he added. “But I had to pay RM13,000 in advance for a week’s treatment.”
He said they told him to continue this treatment for three months.
“But nothing changed, and I saw no positive signs.”
His feeling of having been cheated turned into depression and he began lashing out at those around him. Eventually, his marriage failed and he was left alone.
He then underwent psychiatric treatment for six months before returning to his home town in Sungai Petani, Kedah.
There, his family advised him to seek spiritual treatment at a temple. He agreed, and was told that his physical condition was triggered by mystic powers.
“They said it was a curse,” he added. “But I chose to look at it from a positive perspective because everything happens for a reason.”
But despite his optimism, his condition continue to deteriorate until five years later, in 2019, he found himself wheelchair-bound.
His life took a turn for the better after he joined a programme by the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit or Mitra.
He underwent training at the Independent Living & Training Centre (ILTC) which facilitates the acquisition of new skills and aims to boost self-motivation among members.
Now a member himself, he is also a motivational speaker at the Penang-based organisation.
He is also pursuing a master’s degree at Open University, and intends to further his studies to the PhD level.
“After undergoing training at ILTC, I saw that there are people with more severe disabilities than I have,” he said. “This inspired me to improve myself.”
His ambition now is to become a lecturer.
“Otherwise, I will continue with ILTC to help disabled people learn new skills.”