Volume 11 - Issue 11
November 2013
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Posted on: Nov 27, 2013

The Unbreakable Spirit of Sai('s) Kaustuv Dasgupta


Part 01

 

The tale of a person who even when caught in a cage of thorns would pick one to remove the other and then raise his hands in sheer gratitude to say, “Thank you Lord! You are so kind!” This story will both wrench your heart and elevate your soul… such is its power, literally.


When I saw him a few weeks ago for the first time, I could not believe he was the dynamic one behind most of the impressive activity we saw every day. It was simply incredible, to say the least.

The moment the festival of Krishnashtami approached, a new banner for the home page of Radio Sai had arrived, unasked, done with the finesse of a professional.

Grama Seva began on October 6, 2013 and a fresh wallpaper adorned Radio Sai's Facebook page, beautifully summarizing this saga of annual rural service. Again, this was unsolicited.

The staff of Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital made their offering of gratitude on October 4, 2013 and within minutes of this live video broadcast on radiosai.org, screenshots along with a description of the video surfaced on our social networking page. We were pleasantly surprised.

In the run up to the live telecast of the Poornahuti of the Dasara yagnam, once again our Facebook page posted alerts reminding thousands of devotees worldwide to watch the direct broadcast of the ceremonies online.

The new month of October started and a pictorial Sai calendar was offered right on the first day of the month, freely for everyone's use. There is another for the month of November now titled 'Nostalgic November'.

All this is true not just for the current month and the last, but has been going on for the past 15 months. Any activity at Prasanthi Nilayam or any new update on Radio Sai website would be diligently and delightfully packaged for over 18,247 (as of 27 Nov 2013) brothers and sisters who connect to us via social media.

Not only this, each morning the moment 'Sai Inspires', our daily e-mail leaves our system, the message is promptly and prominently featured with lovely close-ups of Swami on facebook.com/radiosai.

When our Thursday Live Radio Sai schedule gets posted on our website, within minutes it is shared with thousands, added now with a specially created graphic for this purpose.

Apart from these, there are the other amazingly creative graphics produced silently and sent to us in time to supplement an article or a video.

Illustrations for the Heart2Heart series 'Satsang With a Techie'

The Supra Normal Spirit and Smile of Kaustuv

And the single super enthusiastic volunteer behind all of this is an individual whose story can move even a stone to shed copious tears. His unconditional love for the Divine will leave you mesmerised. As you watch him speak and smile, you too force a responding smile but your eyes are wet, and your heart too touched to beat.

The first time I met him my instant question was, “Are you Sai Kaustuv Dasgupta?” When he nodded with an easy smile I immediately asked, “How do you manage to do all that you do?”

 

As a super-normal or a special person, I saw that he was completely confined to his bed.

All the crucial joints of his body – at the knees, elbows and shoulders – had been fixed. He sat there propped with pillows on either side, a metallic structure supporting his fragile back while a stool provided stability to his legs. A light t-shirt covered his bust and a dhoti hid the rest of his body, but what he wore conspicuously and heartily was a big smile. If you looked only at his countenance, so effortlessly cheerful and sublimely content, you would never guess his predicament below the neck.

“Oh, I do not do anything. It is Swami! He does everything through me. I am so happy that He has chosen me to be an instrument... I want to work for His mission and do whatever little I can for mankind. When people benefit from what I do, it fills me with so much happiness.”

“But others should be serving you; they should be helping you and supporting you, and not the other way around!” I blurted out.

“No, I do not think so,” replied Kaustuv instantly. “I want to serve. My life here is for a purpose; there is a reason why Swami has brought me here and He will take care of me, I am sure. I only want to do His work... and yes, so many people do support and inspire me.”

“Like who?” I asked.

 

“You... all of you in the Radio Sai team... you do so many good things.”

I did not know how to react. I felt so insignificant and humbled that I wanted to just disappear into the earth right then and there.

Here was a youngster whose only limbs of the body that functioned normally were his neck, facial muscles and two fingers of the left hand, and he was churning out creative artwork in Photoshop with the precision and sharpness of a seasoned professional.

Also at a pace even my colleagues in office often cannot match. As if this was not enough to shock and stir me, he was even saying, “You all are my inspiration.”

I just stared at him in disbelief.

“But how did you learn Photoshop?” I asked.

“A friend gave me the basic lessons for a couple of days and the rest I learnt through self-study.”

“How can you work with both your arms fixed and immobile?”

“Now, that's a secret,” he smiled broadly. “But you are a nice brother, I will reveal it to you. Not many know this...”

So saying, he asked his father to bring his high-table and set up the laptop for him. The screen was now at the level of his eyes. Booting the laptop, he asked me to sit on his right to show me his creations. I saw the cursor moving up and down in the monitor but wondered where the source of this movement was. My eyes finally went to a mouse pad that was placed below his limp left hand. Yes, the palm was limp but not the index and middle fingers; they were super active!

 

“You are able to create all these graphics with the mouse clicks of just those two fingers!” I exclaimed.

“Yes,” he smiled gleefully. “It can be done, it is possible... actually I do not sit all the time. I do most of my work lying down.”

“Lying down?”

“Yes, shall I show you? Now you will know one more secret of mine.” And his face again broke into a full smile.

He then said something to his father in Bengali, his native tongue. Immediately his metallic back-rest was removed, the position of the stool was changed, and very gently his father and mother placed him on his back. They were handling him with as much care and caution as you would an infant.

“We have to do this very gently and slowly because as you can imagine his bones are very brittle, like biscuit,” his father clarified when he saw my face flooded with exclamation marks.

Next, the height of the laptop-stool was suitably adjusted so that as Kaustuv turned his head, now to his right in that lying posture, he could easily see the screen.

Then, his left hand was cautiously raised and his mother placed the mouse pad below with utmost care. And once this was set, he was ready to go. “See, this is how I work most of the time... it is very comfortable. I created the Grama Seva graphic yesterday like this.” His face was beaming even as his two fingers clicked away at lightning speed.

“I can also type,” he added with the joy and innocence of an excited little child, “See?” and a virtual keyboard propped on the screen and he started writing 'Sairam brother, it is nice talking to you...' and the letters formed at a speed only a seasoned typist could match.

As my mind tried to register all these incredulous scenes, he casually said, “Actually I wanted to become a playback singer, and even before that a dancer.”

I looked at his parents in wonder, as if to ask whether there were more surprises still in store.

The Heartbreaking Diagnosis

“He was born a normal child in 1991,” his mother clarified and added, “As a toddler the moment he would see a dance, he would pick up those steps quickly. But around this time he also fractured himself every now and then.”

“Actually his first fracture happened when he was just three and half months old,” she continued, “He was in plaster and recovered. But within two months, he broke his limbs again. And this repeated one more time. By the time he was a year old he had suffered three fractures!

“That got us really concerned,” his father now took over, “And when we consulted orthopaedic specialists, after examining him thoroughly they said he suffered from a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. This is an extremely rare condition that happens to one in 20,000 births. It is also called 'brittle bone disease'.”

[I later gathered that this is a congenital disorder characterised by bones that break easily, often from little or no apparent reason. It is caused by genetic defects that affect the body's ability to make strong bones. There is an organisation called Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation (www.oif.org) to support and guide such people.]

 


 

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