Standing on two feet
He lost his hands as a child, but that did not stop him from leading a productive life.
“When I was still a pupil, I went swimming in Kaluwankerni Sea and saw a mysterious object floating on the surface. I took hold of it, and while I was trying to examine what it was, it suddenly exploded – both of my hands were blown off. Since then, I have been living without my hands. I work on my own, drive my motorcycle and I have never sought help from anyone. I can stand on my own feet,” says 39-year-old Vinayakamoorthy Lokeswaran, a thriving fish wholesaler.
Originally from Kaluwankerni, Batticaloa Lokeswara was only 17 years old when he lost his hands.
“During the war period, I was always looked at suspiciously by the security personnel and had to face lots of difficulties from the Divisional Military Camp. The soldiers were transferred from time to time. As soon as they were changed, I would be interrogated by the new arrivals. It was difficult explaining what happened to me every time I was questioned.”
In Batticaloa, winners with special needs
In Batticaloa district there are 7176 people living with disabilities, ranging from blindness to behavioural disorders. They are provided assistance by the Social Service Department and by non-governmental organizations. Disabled children are looked after by organizations like Dharisanam, Vaalvosai, OSANAM and MANCAP.
“There are organisations that look after disabled persons in all 14 Divisional Secretariat Divisions in Batticaloa District,” said Sarangapani Arulmozhi, social service officer in the Batticaloa. “They are very united and work in coordination.”
Two of students from the Tharisanam school for disabled children have been selected for the national cricket team for the blind. One has been selected to play on the national team. Two have been selected for the national seated volleyball team. In the national Para Olympic Games, Batticola’s team won 21 medals, including three gold medals.
School drop out
Lokeswaran was forced to leave school once he lost his hands. At first, he earned a bit by pushing fishing boats into the sea. Later he managed to buy a fishing boat with the savings he earned from his daily wages. Then he employed a few fishermen to work for him in his boat. Later, he was able to buy another fishing boat. Now he is a leading supplier of fish to other areas, too. He is able to drive motorcycles and boats, as well as perform basic activities like change his clothes, prepare his food and even lift weights.
And, he even found love.
Despite opposition from her parents, Lokeswaran also married the girl he has loved since he was a schoolboy. They now have three children and live in a large house.
“My relatives were asking how I could live with a person who has lost both his hands and discouraged me from marrying him,” said Lokeswaran’s wife Devamalar. “But I was determined to marry him. We took all those oppositions as a challenge for our future life and won in our struggle. After the first child was born our parents and other relatives accepted us. Neither I nor my husband considers the loss of his hands as a handicap.”
“There are of two types of disabled people,” says Lokeswaran. “One type has no self-confidence and is dependent on others. And the other type is full of self-confidence – I am one of them.”