Everything was perfect for me and my family when I was born on 26th September 2002 in a small village in Bhagalpur, India. There was happiness all around me as a new life had just entered this great universe to face various challenges proposed by it.
I grew up like a normal kid, the favorite amongst everyone in my family. The turning point came when one day I was not able to walk properly, not because of my legs but because I couldn’t see properly. My family got tensed as this was an extremely different situation for them. Time passed and I underwent treatment. Somehow during one of these sessions, an eye drop reacted against the expectations of all.
My eyesight kept on getting dull as each day passed. In hopes of my recovery, I was taken to Chennai to India’s best eye hospital known as ‘Shankar Netralaya.’ Post my three years spent here, I was sent to a blind hostel due to the fact that the doctors had no hope of me getting my eyesight back.
Securing a spot at the blind school was like a golden ‘eye’ in my life. I got into the National Association for the Blind (NAB) in Delhi. This was one of the best schools to be in, personally, due to the prospects of inclusive education practiced here. I slowly started accepting the facts of life and the way it was, making a number of friends along the way. After one year of training in Braille, I got integrated into Tagore International School, New Delhi. I loved my new school and I couldn’t contain my excitement when I heard that I had passed the entry test to the school. During my time here, I have made more friends, learning great values and achieved an enormous amount of knowledge.
As the days passed, I started my adventure in the world of chess. My brother taught me how to play the game. This was followed by my numerous games with my friends and family, which made me get stronger. In 2016, I got to meet Devanshi Rathi through her Project Checkmate and she has been working on improving my game until now, giving me various opportunities to take part in numerous events. Two of my biggest achievements was to obtain my classical and rapid ratings in the game in 2017.
I have also participated in various events in my school such as debate and declamation, national and international Olympiads, and acting events. I am an active member of my school’s heritage club and computer club. I am also a part of various national social service campaigns such as ‘Dare to Rise’ (drugs awareness) and ‘Breaking Barriers.’ (rights for LGBTQI)
These activities coupled with my increasing interest in chess have made me a stronger person both mentally and physically. I am proud of the fact that I didn’t think about my disability in its original course and took up the challenge to accomplish something good in my life. Currently in class 10th and preparing for my boards, my ambition is to become a Chartered Accountant (CA) without giving up on my dreams of playing more competitive chess.
I hope that I could aspire many more people to kick up and dream big because a disability can give an ability in many ways like it did in my life through my chess and other activities that I participated in.
The author Devanshi Rathi of Project Checkmate helps visually impaired children like Ayush with learning and improving their game of Chess.