Updated: January 18, 2011 12:02 IST

An arduous journey

Ramya Kannan
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Cerebral Palsy is a neurological condition that makes body movement and speech extremely difficult. Once this is understood, it will be easy to appreciate what a stupendous task it would have been for Malini Chib to have come this far. And also, how important it is that she recounts her arduous journey, which she has been pursuing with the aid of just that one little finger.

One Little Finger is the autobiography of Malini Chib, a baby who survived despite the doctor's conviction that she would not. A traumatic birth process, however, left her with cerebral palsy. In an indifferent society, which then had very little tools for people like her, Malini fought hard to live a meaningful, independent life.

In the book, she records her experiences from childhood to adulthood, her struggles with day-to-day activities, and the slow, but steady, success she achieved in managing them. In her battles against a world that was sensitive, she had help and support from friends, the family, and well-meaning colleagues. At no point could it have been easy, though the book sometimes makes the most challenging of situations sound simple. Malini's undying optimism and cheer at times camouflages the complexities and the formidable obstacles she encountered.

Here is a book from one whose growth into adulthood broadly coincides with the advance in medical and rehabilitation intelligence on cerebral palsy. She found herself in extremely hostile situations and got out of every one of them, and in that there is a lesson for others, able or differently-abled.

There is a frank openness in a Bildungsroman that endears any reader to the central character — Malini has caught that pat on. “I have had a hard time accepting that I am trapped in a rejected body. A body that is not sexually attractive…Like most women, sometimes I craved to be in the arms of a man. Most men look at me as asexual,” she confides honestly.

She confides in the reader every little secret, every emotion, success, frustration, and humiliation. She holds international degrees in Women's Studies, and Library Sciences and Information Management and has a job as an event manager. Malini also founded Able Disabled All People Together (ADAPT) Rights Group. In a very unique way, Malini has also been the cause for some significant sweeping changes that have taken place in the disability sector in the country. Mithu Alur, Malini's mother, to whom the book is dedicated, founded the Spastics Society of India — an organisation that heralded wholistic education and rehabilitation services for persons with physical and neurological difficulties.

Malini's enthusiasm and joie de vivre is mighty infectious, and that makes One Little Finger the book for a dark day. Its child-like fist pumping will pick you up and convince you that triumph is just one little finger away.

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