I choose not to place ‘DIS’, in my ability: Robert M. Hensel
Author: Shah Hussain
All of us have our own share of troubles throughout our lives, but then even the thought of losing one’s eye-sight would leave any soul horrified on any given day. However there still are some truly amazing people in the world who despite going through this awful experience have achieved equally amazing heights that a person with normal vision can only dream off. This story of Sami-ul-Haq Wani concurs with the list of those amazing souls who despite battling rare vision impairment has went on to set a glorious example of how to live life to the fullest. This ‘disability’ has not stopped Wani from leading life the way he has ever wanted to.Sami-ul-Haq Wani commonly known in the social circles as Sameer Wani is presently a Government Teacher, a Resource Coordinator, Trainer, Speaker with a kaleidoscope of talents.
It was on January 9, 1981whenamiddle class (farming) family of Drugmulla – a famous village in the northern frontier District Kupwara – was blessed with a gifted baby boy on an equally blessed Friday. However ten years down the lane, Wani was diagnosed with severe vision impairment and from there on a story unfolded, story which will imbibe in you a sense of hope and courage!
Starting his journey as a student from Government Boys Middle School Drugmulla, Sameer very soon caught the attention of his teachers and peers for his exceptional grasp over studies. The journey went as such till 1992, however soon after Sameer started complaining of less sight to his family. A major setback took Sameer off his feet when doctors diagnosed him with Retinitis Pigmentosa(RP)- a rare, inherited degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment- A genetic disorder that involves a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina (RP leads to the gradual loss of sight). The family of Sameer was equally shattered and the hunt for cure begun with his elder brother, Nasrullah Wani, leaving no stone unturned to arrange their meetings with as many ophthalmologists as they possibly could.
Narrating the ordeal, Wani remarks “We ran from post to pillar and went on meeting almost every ophthalmologist in Kashmir and a few in Delhi, Amritsar and Bengaluru with almost negligible fruitful results.After extensive case study, the doctors said that it was genetic disorder and thus cannot be cured.”
Caught in a double whammy as to continue his studies or leave in between, Sameer somehow took a giant leap of faith and went on with his studies to exhibit his brighter, colorful and cheerful side to the world. Wani went to pass his matriculation and12th examinations, with flying colors from Government Higher Secondary School Drugmulla. Having a keen interest in English language, he happened to be the only student in Kashmir province, who secured 98 marks out of 100 in English, in his then matriculation examination. During his higher secondary school days, doctors advised Sameer to quit studies however defying all the odds, Sameer sailed against the tides and graduated from Government Degree College, Handwara, in arts. The journey was full of rough roads though.
During the college vision kept on decreasing over a period of time, thus adding to the woes of Sameer. While his eyes continued losing sight, the urge to continue his education kept on mushrooming, and the inner urge to conquer the world defeated the barricades within and outside. With a great hold on English language, mastering fluency, gifted with a clear, lucid, audible voice, having a lively accent, Sameer brought laurels to his college, by not only participating but securing positions in various debates, symposiums, seminars, eloquence competitions also. During the course of time however it became a necessity for Sameer to be accompanied by escort students, as he struggled to walk alone, with his diminishing sight. “For all the students, it was a Herculean task to speak on the podium while for me, it was a challenge to reach the podium”, Sameer, while recalling his old days, said in a compelling tone.
In the year 2005, Sameer was appointed as an Rehber-e-Taleem (ReT) Teacher in the department of education. This major breakthrough proved a “Morale booster” for him. According to Sameer, his young shoulders were trusted to work as a Nation Builder. Working with zeal and zest, despite facing myriad challenges, Sameer was elevated to the position of resource coordinator/Teacher trainer in 2012.Not resting on his laurels, Sameer pursued his post graduation in Political Science, through University of Kashmir’s distance mode and a BED also. He is presently pursuing Masters in Public administration through distance mode.
With dwindling eyesight, every passing day, the colorful world was replaced by a one permanent color, Black! What’s more inspiring is Sameer’s perseverance and strong mental health.
Sameer tied the knot in 2012 and is blessed with a daughter. On being asked about his wife’s role in his life, Sameer emphasized that marrying him was her wife’s first and the biggest sacrifice. Irrespective of the fact that he has a visual impairment, his wife chose to marry him. Sameer cannot read books now. His sight doesn’t allow him to write anymore. His wife always holds his hand to take him out, reads for him, and lends him a shoulder, to s.
Sameer is a technocrat and shows a palpable presence on Social networking sites. He with the help of various smart-phone features keeps himself busy in accumulating knowledge. Sameer has a galaxy of friends, whose contribution towards him cannot be sidelined. Usually in the evening, after attending mosque, Sameer along with his friends go out to enjoy the bytes of life.
The turning point, according to Sameer in his life, was the interaction with Syed Humayun Qaiser, a radio wizard, on the popular show, “Meet a friend” on August 14 2014, aired on Radio Kashmir Srinagar. Sameer shared his journey on the show and gained wide popularity across the horizons in and outside Valley. During the show, Qaiser was full of praises for Sameer’s struggle and complimented him by appreciating Sameer’s communication skills.
That was the motivational moment which accelerated the gears of my life, Sameer remarks. Since then, Sameer has participated in various shows on Radio and TV, sharing his inspirational journey. He speaks on various socio- cultural and educational issues.
A cricket enthusiast by heart, Sameer has grown up commentating on cricket fields. A great fan of Waqar Younus, he is very much in awe for the English commentators, Nasser Hussain, Michael Holding and Tony Greg. Sameer loves the poetry since his childhood. Ahmad Faraz is his favorite poet. Sameer’s articulation of poetry has won many hearts, particularly those of his colleagues and friends. Sameer’s love for Ghazals and classical, Bollywood, romantic songs never fades. Mehdi Hassan, Kishore Umar, Noor Jahan are in his favorite Singers’ list.
Presently Sameer provides training to the teachers, with an attempt to impart various technical and non technical teaching skills in teachers. He also deals with stress management, new learning techniques and communication skills. Adding a new feather to his cap, in this global pandemic lockdown, when students have been forced to study from home, Sameer Wani has been roped in by the DESK Srinagar to deliver English classes on All India Radio, Srinagar. What is more astonishing is that he happens to be the only physically disabled teacher in the valley to deliver the classes of such kind!
When asked about his future aspirations, Sameer aims to write a book to encompass his journey of life, ‘How he defeated his disability to inspire those who are either physically disabled or down in the dumps due to depression’!
Sameer believes that there is no difference between a so-called normal person and the one who is physically disabled. Once asked by a pellet victim, how to survive with the blind eyes, Sameer inspired him by calling black as the only permanent color, and that they should take the disability as a strength to compete with the rest of the world. What’s worrisome is the lack of appreciation and recognition from the top administration in the education sector. Despite possessing a bagful of talents and doing immense work for the department, the top officials and administration of the department has failed to applaud the efforts of this talented visually impaired teacher. Sameer wants to excel in the department, aims to train teachers in new and advanced ways, motivate students and above all, become a productive member of the society.
The author can be reached on: Shahsoabb@gmail.com