Roshan Chhetri was born to Man Bahadur and Durga in Nazitam village and grew up like any other child in the beautiful state of Sikkim. He is the younger of the Chhetris, his sister Roshni being the first. In his early childhood, Roshan was a bundle of energy and used to be quick on his feet, running around like other kids of his age. He attended the primary school at St Joseph’s Convent, Martam, till Class 2.
When he was eight years old, Roshan became quite unwell. He had raging fever and lost control of his legs. The illness, which might have been polio, resulted in his being affected with a locomotor disability, and changed things for Roshan and the family. The latter valiantly tried reviving his mobility making multiple trips to hospitals in Kolkata and the local hospital in Sikkim. Fortunately, the illness did not impact his hands or other faculties.
Roshan’s and his family’s never-say-die attitude did not let his truncated education remain that way for long. Once they figured out a way of managing his daily routine, his education became their priority. The 13-year-old is now in Class 3 and attends classes online.
What emerges from the interactions with his mother, Durga, is the family’s remarkable singlemindedness in giving Roshan all the opportunities. They continue to explore ways in which his mobility issue can be medically treated and his limbs strengthened through ongoing physiotherapy. The STNM hospital in Sochakgang, Gangtok, administers treatment to Roshan for a spell of 15 days after which they give the boy and the family a break for them to be able to go back and practise what has been taught to improve his condition.
It is Durga who stays with him during the fortnight-long treatment. She has learnt the physiotherapy regimen and helps her son with the exercises when they return home so as to help him regain his strength and mobility. They go back to the hospital for his treatment after breaks in between.
The support system in the family has evolved beautifully. While Durga is the primary caregiver for Roshan, the household rallies around to keep things together, particularly as Durga also supplements the family income by selling vegetables and seasonal fruits in the nearby market. While she is away, she keeps checking on Roshan with whom she has left a mobile phone. Man Bahadur, a carpenter, undertakes small woodwork contracts and also runs the household while Roshan and Durga are away at the hospital. Roshni, all of 14, has been trained to run the house along with her dad and is adept at cooking. The well-knit family has woven its routine around Roshan’s needs and yet gives him as normal an environment as possible.
Considering Roshan’s hands are unaffected, he serves his food himself, cleans up and generally copes well in the absence of his family members. They are fortunate to have found neighbours (some are relatives) who help him go to the bathroom while Durga is away, Man Bahadur is at work, and Roshni is at school. They also keep checking on Roshan.
The mobile phone is Roshan’s access to the world, be it the educational content streamed by the school for his online classes or access to entertainment, apart from connecting him with family and friends. He is fond of watching animal videos on the mobile, probably inspired by the presence of poultry and domestic animals in and around his house.
Roshan is good in English, says Durga, but does not like science and maths. He is learning Hindi and Nepali as well. He dreams of pursuing his education, getting a job and becoming "someone who is respected". He likes dal-chawal and aloo gobi and has a sweet tooth. He also likes to visit the market and go out. Like they do with everything about Roshan, the family obliges by carrying him around when they take him out.
Healthwise, Roshan suffers setbacks every now and then. Currently, he is in hospital after a bout of high fever. Despite such hiccups, if his record were to be an indication of his and his family’s spirit, he is bound to be back soon to a loving home and to an environment that works hard to ensure that his dreams for his future come to fruition.