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Jayati Godhawat

JWB Blogger

Paralympian Deepa Malik Opens Up To JWB About The Sexuality Of Women With Disabilities

  • JWB Post
  •  November 9, 2016


When we got to know that the Paralympic Champion, Deepa Malik would be conducting a session for FICCI Flo Jaipur Chapter, I quickly called dibs for attending it before the other girls could do it.

At the session, Deepa shared her views on the topic: “Attack Your Limitations: Turn Your Weaknesses into Strength.” She took us on the moving journey of her life where she discussed her childhood, dreams, aspirations, marriage, motherhood, achievements, etc.

Deepa shared that when she was 5, her father noticed that Deepa’s walk wasn’t proper.

“My father was in the army, and he took me to all possible places in India, for my treatment. I was in the hospital for 9-10 months at a stretch. Imagine, at the time where there were no play stations or mobiles, or laptops, how would have I spent each day in the hospital, doing nothing? You know what I did to pass my time? I used to ask every person who entered the room, be it the nurses, the cleaners, other patients, etc., to tell me a story, and I just silently listened to them,” Deepa said reminiscing.

“It was then that I acquired a strong sense of positivity. Also, I learned the attitude of gratitude. You can only be grateful if you appreciate things. And, I started appreciating everything around me,” she added.

“I didn’t want to go to the school because I had uplifters all over my body and I was in the wheelchair. My Art teacher came up with this solution: She handed me a basket of golden stars and announced to all the students that whoever made Deepa happy would get the stars from her and will be awarded one chocolate,” continued Deepa. And, Deepa who was crippled, Deepa who was in the wheelchair, suddenly became the princess with the golden stars.”

“Zariya wahi hai bas najriya badalne ki der hai,” she exclaimed.

I had gooseflesh. Every word of Deepa was so empowering and inspiring.

She revealed that it was in her teenage years that she found her first love which was, motorcycles.

“You know how people say that you should be very clear in your prayer and wish to God. Well, I always wished for the wheels, and there, he put me in the wheelchair,” she laughed.

And guess what? Deepa found her soulmate, her husband, through her love for bikes. That’s a story to hear, right?

“I used to go on a run every day. Every day I saw this boy running, too. One day, he came with this gorgeous looking motorcycle. And, I so wanted to ride it. I went up to the guy and asked him to give me the keys. He asked if I would be able to manage it? I commanded to hand me the keys then and he did. I rode the motorcycle and pulled out few stunts and gave it back to him. I told him that I’d have married any guy who’d not ask me why I needed a motorcycle and would buy me one,” she said.

“So, next day, he went to my father and said, “I will get your daughter a new motorcycle. Can I marry her?” she laughed, “Basically, I was sold off just for a bike.”


Deepa also talked about having her first daughter Devika and how it felt to be a mother.

“Seeing my daughter take her first steps and walk all around the house was a beautiful feeling, especially because I didn’t walk for the first 3-4 years of my life.”

“However, one day, Devika was hit by a bike when she was just a year and a half old. I cried and cried. I asked Him, why me and why again?”

“Her one leg was paralyzed, and she had suffered a head injury. My parents told me, “Now it’s time to tell us what kind of the parents we have been to you,” and it gave me so much strength. I strived hard for my child. And, then, Ambika, my second daughter was born. Devika’s activities and movement also increased with her and our lives were back on track.”

But God had some other plans for her. She started having difficulty walking again and had a constant pain in her back. It was during this time when she entered a beauty contest. Many people advised her not to as she was walking with a limp.

“So, many times we crush our dreams just because we think, “Log kya kahege” but that has never bothered me.”

And she took the crown of the beauty contest with this beautiful response.

“Koi bhi medical condition mujhe khoobsurat mehsus karne se nahi rok shakti.”


Unfortunately, soon after, her MRI revealed that the tumor in her spine was back.

“The doctors gave me seven days to prepare myself before getting admitted for the surgery. They had informed me of the consequences that in most cases, such surgeries resulted in paralysis,” she shared.

“I could have cried and lost my control, but I chose otherwise. In those seven days, I made necessary arrangements and prepared myself for the surgery and its consequences. I bought the wheelchair even before going to the hospital.”

“The doctors asked me if I wanted to say anything and I asked if I could speak to my husband. My husband was at the Kargil war at the time. They took me into the radio satellite room they had and connected me to him,” Deepa explained.

I said, “I will never be able to walk again after the surgery. Over. I will get paralyzed below chest after it. Over. And he replied, “I will carry you in my arms the whole life. Over. Just don’t die and wait for me. Over.”

“They are moments such as these, you realize, the most important thing in the world is to make your family feel that yes you are there and are together in anything and everything,” she added.

I knew what every person in the room there might be feeling after listening to her. I felt the same and yet, the feeling was inexpressible.

And, the rest was history!

She got a national award for being the only restaurateur with a disability. She undertook training in swimming and won her first International medal in Swimming in Kuala Lumpur. She revived her love for wheels and got a custom-made motorcycle for her.

She registered her name in the prestigious Limca book of records for swimming, riding a bike and driving a car. The record included crossing a 1 km stretch of the Yamuna river against the current, in 2008; covering 58 km by riding a special bike, in 2009; completing the longest pan-India drive by any paraplegic woman, in 2013; and driving across nine high altitude passes in nine days on Ladakh’s highest motorable roads.

And, if this wasn’t enough, she undertook training for over four years and not only participated but also won a silver medal in Paralympics Women Shot-Put event at the Rio Paralympics 2016.

Later, I also got a chance to interact with Deepa. I asked her, “What do you have to say about the sexuality of the women with a disability?”

Deepa: This is another aspect which my team under the initiative, ‘Ability Beyond Disability’ looks into very seriously. We make women understand the importance of it and how can they explore it. Also, one needs to understand that other than sex there can be other ways to bond, too. We work to build women’s confidence in herself and it’s also necessary to educate the caretakers of the people with disability about their sexual desires. 

Me: Swimmer, Biker, Paralympian! Next is what? Any plans of joining the politics?

Deepa: Well, I’ll get back to my athletic training. Also, I have been chosen as an ambassador of the Elections Commission so that’s another responsibility I have. And, as far as joining the politics, I can just say, that, agar mai politician bani toh bahut behtarin banugi, kyuki mai meri kursi kabhi nahi chodugi. *winks*

So many roles, careers, and accolades, to her name and yet, here Deepa was sitting with us, sharing her life experiences because she wants all of us to understand, “Everyone can make a difference.”

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