EXCLUSIVE: Special Olympics Asia–Pacific Ambassador Tamana Talks About Her Life
- IWB Post
- December 24, 2015
Tamana Chona is one woman I will always be proud of meeting. With a 20-something minute-long interaction, this 45-year-old woman could give me the answer to the most asked question – what is the meaning of one’s life.
We read books and seek gurus to understand the mission of life, however, listening to Tamana changed this ritual for me. At least.
Tamana suffers from a medical condition called cerebral palsy. But that hasn’t stopped her from dreaming and working towards those dreams. Contrary to what science had predicted for her, she learnt to walk on her own. All this happened soon after her 9th birthday. She became a role model for the differently-abled across the world and was selected to represent Asia–Pacific as one of the Special Olympics, Inc’s Sargent Shriver Global Messenger for 2002-2003. She has been recognized as an Ambassador for Peace by the Universal Peace Federation and the Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace.
Her mother, Dr. Shayama Chona, a Padamshree Awardee, once said, “Three decades ago after the birth of my daughter Tamana, I had a dream to create a world of inclusion. It has taken 25 years of struggle by us to open the minds of Indian society to accept the disabled. As my daughter Tamana has grown into a well settled and independent adult, so has the organization.”
Her mother, Dr. Shayama Chona supported Tamana beyond their capacities. Apart from hiring some of the best trainers from around the world for Tamana and building a special staircase at home to make her daily chores easy, they founded an NGO named after her, so that she could work, interact and become independent. This Special School caters kids in the age group of 4 to 17. It focuses on overall development of the child, depending on needs as well as potential.
Google can tell you a lot about Tamana and her marvelous accolades including the latest National Award for the Best Employee with Disabilities from the Honourable Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley, on 3rd December 2015 at the National Awards Ceremony. Also awarded as one of the Best Junior School Teachers, Tamana told me how she divides her day strategically for all other activities of her interest.
Me: What activities do you enjoy, Tamana?
Tamana: I love dancing, playing Tennis, and currently I am learning Spanish. I love dancing on Bollywood numbers. Let me pose for you!
Me: Why not! I love your energy.
Tamana: When is your birthday?
Me: April 15th.
Tamana: I will send you a gift. Do you love gifts?
Me: Who doesn’t? (laughs sheepishly)
Tamana: I love sending gifts to people and making new friends. I will keep Whatsapping you.
Me: I am a chatterbox too!
Tamana: My mom scolds me all the time because I am always peeping into my phone. (laughs) She is amazed at the number of people I am friends with.
Me: Tell me about one of your best memories with one such close friend.
Tamana: The moment when APJ Abdul Kalam hugged me and asked me to refer him as ‘Mamu’ (maternal uncle).
Me: Wow, that’s wonderful.
Tamana: I miss him so much. He would often phone my mother to inquire about my well-being.
Me: Do you also want to share one funny moment?
Tamana: I once asked Rajiv Gandhi to show me his identity card. The PM should carry one na!
Tamana: Hey Lavanya, do you want to high-five with me?
Me: Tamana, can I ask you a very personal question.
Me: Do you miss having a partner, a soul mate who can be around when you need someone the most?
Tamana: Yes. I do. Although, I am old. (giggles)
Tamana: Thank you! Everyone yearns for a partner. As a woman, even I did. I dreamt of someone who could sit by my side. Someone who’d love meeting new people as much as I do. Someone who would be as compassionate towards people with special needs as I am.
Me: Why no more?
Tamana: Because people who love me have filled this gap. Instead of over-thinking about this wishfully little desire, I have now learnt to focus on those around me. I feel immense gratitude for having such noble souls in my life.
Me: Include me in this list.
Tamana hugged me as soon as I said this. She is like a child with transparent heart, ready to pour down all the love upon you. The question remains if you’re willing to accept her love. And the love of all those like her. Let’s love!
Photo courtesy: Pallav Bhargava