Meet Sai Kaustuv, from Siliguri, West Bengal, now living in Andhra Pradesh, an International Graphic Designer, Motivational Speaker, Happiness Coach, a Singer and a Music Composer. With more than 50 fractures in his body, he has never allowed disability to cripple his life. All his body joints are fixed by now and he moves with the help of an electronic chair to commute with the outer world. He has spent a huge part of his life confined to a single room for 6 long years and yet stood up to fight for his living and to prove that disability is of the body and not of the mind. He does designs by operating a mouse with his left hand and that too with two fingers only. Being unable to do all the regular chores, he has taught himself to do such tasks, which all able bodies are not able to do. He happens to be the 4th icon after Helen Keller, Stephen Hawking and Srikanth Bhola, who proved that physical disability does not come in the way of fostering leadership.
What did you do as a child, and how did your life change all of a sudden?
After I restricted myself from dancing at the age of 5 years, I thought to do something by staying in a safe zone as I was realizing that my bones are so fragile just like glass. Then I started singing getting inspired from my mother, who was also my first teacher as a trained classical singer herself and someone who knew the issues that I was facing with dancing, I took singing as a platform to express my emotions.
In my childhood, everyday was a story for me. Every now and then, there used to be a fracture in my body. All my relatives and friends used to feel pity upon me. They only used to think that Kaustuv is someone who is defined with sufferings. Every time they meet me or greet me, they used to ask about my health. There was nothing in their mind except my disability. They knew that I am not able to do anything. It’s 100% true that physically I am unable to do anything but I have proved that disability affected my body not the mind.
I was a very good student. I used to come first in my class. Though there were many challenges still I used to be positive and used to believe in patience. And the interesting thing was my mother was a teacher in my school as she was so concerned about my health. Actually she used to teach before my birth too but after I joined school, she too joined the same school to satisfy her passion of teaching and to look after me as my condition was fragile. She used to be cautious always. Thus, I grew up with so much care and love in the loving nest of my loving parents.
How did you manage your studies when you noticed that your health has been deteriorating? What did you plan to do next?
After shifting to Andhra Pradesh, I used to study through distant education as my health was not suitable to be a regular student. My health started deteriorating after I completed my intermediate and I had to discontinue my B.A. due to critical condition of my body. So I had no clue what to do next. I never imagined that I need to skip my studies. Then I started learning Computers and got encouraged to study computer. I finished Diploma in Computer Science and went further to learn graphics designing. I did some tutorial courses and used to enhance my designing skills. Currently, I have global clients and I do international designing. I’ve started with my studies again and currently pursuing B.Com.
There was a time when you have been confined to a room for 6 years. How did you feel about that? What drove you to come out of the room and live a life like yours?
Life is full of challenges, obstacles, problems but joy is also there to face them courageously. Life taught me how to smile after confining into a room for 6 years (2009-2015)! Could you believe how I used to feel when I could not see nature, sun, moon and all these beautiful creations? I used to feel down in depression. But slowly, I started realizing that if I break down like this, then what about the other differently abled people who are also struggling to break the barriers. How will they get motivated? Who will inspire them? Then I started developing a desire to change my situation fully. I made myself a Wheelchair Warrior and came out of the room to show the world the power of positivity. I set a goal to inspire all disabled people in this world through my journey which went through tremendous turmoil but ultimately won the race.
It might sound unbelievable, but my belief used to travel beyond all boundaries and that belief became my main strength to fight against all odds. In spite of so many difficulties, I lead my life with positivity. Physically I am unable to do anything on my own and fully I am dependent on my parents. I am also unable to sit properly for long hours and unable to do all regular daily activities. During my confinement of 6 years in a small room, I used to practice positivity. Its not something that happened suddenly. It was a tough practice to keep myself motivated.
When and why did you and your family move to Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh?
I used to love spirituality from childhood. I used to love listening to devotional songs and doing rituals. We are the devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba and he is our guru, god and everything. We used to worship him from long time. In 2001, Dr Sai Kiran, an eye specialist, came to Siliguri from Puttaparthi where Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram is situated. We went to meet him. He saw me and heard my story. He suggested us to move into Puttaparthi, where Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital known for its specialised treatment in orthopaedics is located. As he was telling that many international orthopaedic surgeons are visiting the hospital and may be my condition could see a betterment. So this was the main motive of shifting from Siliguri to Puttaparthi. My parents put me as their first priority. They never hesitated to sacrifice their jobs for me. My father was a photojournalist with some 16 newspapers in north Bengal, and mother was a music and science teacher. They left everything and we moved to Puttaparthi with a ray of hope of my cure. We had to struggle a lot in beginning of our shifting as its fully different in South where as we belong from North. But finally we settled down and accepted our new chapter of life happily.
Could you share with us a few of your achievements?
There are several achievements in my life. I’ve received a lot of affection, awards and recognition from millions. I would love to mention some of my favourite ones here. It was a great moment when CavinKare and Ability Foundation chose me for the Mastery Award 2017 which is also a national level award for my accomplishments as a singer, music composer, graphic designer & motivational speaker. The award carries a citation, a trophy, and cash prize. The Award function happened at SIR MUTHA VENKATASUBBA RAO CONCERT HALL, Chennai on 18th February 2017.
I was also the winner of the ‘All India #WheelchairWandurlust Competition’ in 2016, where I won an accessible trip to Goa and was privileged to meet the State Commissioner for Disabilities in the Government of Goa: Mrs. Anuradha Joshi. She took my feedback on how to make Goa and India more accessible for the differently abled.
I have received the DISHARI AWARD too for the Best Child Singer of West Bengal, India in the year 1999-2000. As a child singer, I got many opportunities to perform before famous singers like Manna Dey, Anuradha Poudwal, Anup Jalota, Rashid Khan, Ajay Chakraborty to name a few.
And recently received 13th WE Awards’17 given by exclusive International Women’s Magazine “WE”. Being honoured as “PERSISTENT ENTHUSIAST OF 2017” I have received a beautiful trophy, citation for my extraordinary achievements in various fields like Motivational Speaking and as Happiness Coach from the CEO and Editor in Chief of We – Women Exclusive Magazine & Twilite Creation Group, Mrs SUMATHI SRINIVAS and Mr. Shyam Kumar, the CEO of Tamil News Channel. The award ceremony happened on the 19th of August 2017, Saturday, at Feathers Hotel, Chennai. Popular Tamil Film Industry’s Directors, Actors, Actresses, Playback singers, Comedian, Olympic Winner and many other celebrities belonging to the silver screen was also awarded in this year’s 13th WE Awards’17.
Beside singing, designing and motivational speaking, I love to read books, watch good movies and very fond of spirituality. I also love to eat and have great interest in cooking. I’m an author too. I have penned down a book in English titled ‘My Life, My Love, My Dear Swami’ published in 2015, where I have expressed myself and has delivered a message, by reflecting upon my life, the struggles and my learnings from it. I wrote the full book in two months through mouse by clicking letters in on-screen keyboard. The book has been translated in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Oriya, Hindi & Gujarati. Even our Prime Minister Narendra Modi loved and appreciated the book upon receiving a copy of it.
What is that which always drives you and keeps you motivated?
Many people ask me that how it is possible to smile after so much sufferings? How I motivate myself? What is that magical X factor in my life which is driving me towards my destination. My biggest strength is my smile. I always love to smile in every situation as I believe smile is the signature line of positivity. And through so many adverse situations of my life, I have learnt to smile as it helps me overcome the situations and gives me satisfaction of winning over it. My Smile also attracts people towards me as they feel positive vibe after meet me and return back with inspiration. So I use my positive energy and smile to motivate myself and these are my strength to show the world that how a 90% differently abled guy can prove his unique capabilities.
Today, standing where you are, how do you look at your birth?
My first fractured happened when I was just 3 and half months old. It was in my right hand and I was continuously crying. I was suffering but was not able to dictate my suffering. In 2009 I was totally confined into my room and no body parts were working. It was not exactly like a trauma as all my body joints were already deformed because of multiple fractures. But I was seeing darkness all around as there was no option for me to move from my small bed where I used to sit and lay down. During that period I saw the most crucial period of my life where I was striving for light while drowning into darkness. Today, after 26 years, when I look back to all these unpleasant memories, I feel my birth itself was very special and unique. I have come to know the purpose of my life and I have turned my disability into my driving force to access all the abilities.
Who were your driving forces and the people who always stayed by you and guided you through all difficulties?
Through out my life till now, my main driving forces are my parents Kausik Dasgupta and Shila Dasgupta. They are like living angels for me. From morning to night they assist me in each and everything. Without their help, I can’t move an inch too. In all my success they are the main pillars and in all my sorrows they are my main supporters. They have sacrificed a lot for my well-being and happiness. They were very supportive from the time I was diagnosed with this disease. They never broke down or complained about their fate.
My parents inspired me always to choose what I love to do and it is their greatness which made me see the world in my own way. Beside them my younger brother Kushal too motivated me a lot. Whenever I decided to do something new, he always inspired me to go ahead for it. Because of them today Sai Kaustuv has come a long way and got millions of people’s love. They are my idols.
How difficult has your journey been through all these years and how do you feel now?
It has been a long journey for me from the green paddy fields and tea gardens of North Bengal to the fertile Chitravathi valley surrounded by the barren hills of South Andhra Pradesh. The journey has been full of ordeals and struggles, but it was worthwhile, for I met so many people and learnt the art of life. My life became meaningful. Now I had learnt to differentiate between the trivial and the real, between the instrument and the composer and between the temporary and the permanent. And I have come to know that I’m like you all as disability is just a term only. It has nothing to do with my dreams and destination. Life gave me two options. To spend my whole life confined into a small comfort zone or to share my positivity and love with the whole world. I chose the second option as I believe that, life is a celebration, we need to celebrate every moment. Suffering and Smile both starts with S. I chose smile to kick out my sufferings.
How do you think you help others in keeping motivated and positive?
The main ambition of my life is to simply making people happy through my positive pep talks. In other sense I would like to bring back the purity of heart and genuine happiness which people lost in today’s busy course of life. They forgot how to smile naturally. They only smile while taking selfie! They need to be motivated very much. They need to learn to give pause in life and reflect back to all the actions done by them. So I want to inspire them such a way that it will help them to regain their true nature and they will learn to smile wholeheartedly.
I do sessions about our abilities and how we can make changes in our lives. Whatever I have learned from my own life, I just share them as experiences. And as my life has seen so many ups and downs, it naturally help people to be motivated. Moreover, I don’t motivate them to think big or do something extraordinary. But I do tell people to stop complaining and enjoy the life as it is. Through so many tragic incidents, I’ve realized the beauty of suffering as it comes with a surprise in the next moment.
You happen to be the 4thicon after Helen Keller, Stephen Hawking and Srikanth Bhola, who proved that physical disability does not come in the way of fostering leadership. What do you have to say about that?
I never felt I’m a differently abled as being born with physical difficulties, does not make me different than others. People with disability need empathy not sympathy! I happen to have been born with some sort of disability, but that does not mean I am disabled. Being a 90% disable guy, I became the fourth global icon worldwide after Helen Keller, Stephen Hawking and Srikanth Bolla on the basis of my leadership quality which has been acknowledged by millions in this world. Our Body may be limited to certain extent, but mind is totally UNLIMITED, we should use our mind for the betterment of society & mankind.
What do you do now a days ?
I am an international designer, so I do freelance designing for my global clients project. At present, I’m doing freelance with eMembler – a US based company and some other International Food Marketing Companies etc. Beside graphic designing, I love to give motivational speeches. My wish is to become a top Motivational Speaker whose own life is a living inspiration. I have already inspired millions of people, especially global leaders, scholars, students and young professionals with live and online sessions of my pep talks. I have conducted motivational sessions for PhD scholars of various institutes in different states of India, as well as those in countries like the US, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia & Nepal to name a few.
Your right hand does not work properly. So how do you manage to do designs or even type like any other normal human being?
I’m trying to be self dependent and working as freelance graphic designer. As already my parents did huge sacrifice for me. Now I would like to return in a tiny way with whatever is possible by me. Also it gives me immense satisfaction by seeing the smiles on people’s face after the work done by me. I have captured the whole world into my grip through the internet. I do designing by operating a mouse with my left hand which only works now and that too with two fingers only. I hold the mouse with my thumb and click with with my index finger. My hands can’t reach the keyboard, but I can type quite fast by using a virtual keyboard.
I discovered virtual keyboard in my laptop which is a common feature in every system but nobody uses it because they don’t need it. I thought to use it because I had no other option. I have penned down my full book like that and completed typing in two months time. I chat with people and type all write ups like this only. All these are answers also typed by me with just one finger by clicking through a mouse. What for other people is impossible, for me its very much possible because I never entertained the word “NO”!
Did you ever feel discriminated by the society, or did the society look upon you with a different view?
I always see the positive side of everything. So, in that sense there is no such discrimination. Still I would like to add that due to my disability, I have faced different types of disadvantages in society. For example everywhere I had to wait for my turn to come. I’ve not got any Government job or not receiving any pension yet inspite of having 90% disability. Also I did not get any scholarship or other advantages to fulfill my necessities and to expertise my skills. I had to discontinue my education because I was not able to write properly and examination seat was far away. That time I was little disappointed by not getting any help or support from any Institution to study further. Whatever I’m today, only because of my strong will power.
Role of society in my life is something which I never experienced. As society always try to be in comfort zone and don’t raise any sound towards disability rights. Very few people really care about our movements and actions. In each society there are disable people but what they receive is only sympathy. Because they feel disability as a weakness in our life. In India people never encourage you in hardships, they only make you feel different. In day to day life, I observe so many things which are not developed like my surroundings are not accessible and I cant access all the public places of my locality.
What is you message for the people around the world out there for your fans, your lovers and all who look upon you as an idol? What do you have to say to them?
My friends out there are so energetic and full of life. They are ready to do anything for me. I really love the enthusiasm and positive attitude in them. Their love for me knows no bounds. Because of them today’s Sai Kaustuv is here in front of you all. For all my readers and friends, I would like to tell that -We all are gifted with so many abilities. Please have faith that you too could fly high on the wings of self confidence and courage. Have strong determination and have clear idea about your destination. Life is too short to celebrate it fully. So give value to your every moment. Know who you are and know that you are worthy of reaching your dreams. It is never too late to start creating that life which you have always dreamed of. Find a balance in your professional and personal life. Do every work with patience. Do not compare yourself ever with others.
No two individuals are same. You are special and you are unique. Be positive, be inspirational and no matter who you are, what you are, how much capable or incapable you think you are. Just get up, throw your weakness and work towards something which you are really good at. Put your trust on yourself. Find your creative skills and capabilities. Explore more to express your true self. If I can smile after all these life threatening hurdles, then you too can march forward with a more broad smile. Being a 90% differently able guy, I have turned my disability into my driving force to make you all SMILE! So please smile and make others happy. You are the winner of this life game and you are the creator of your own destiny.
What an inspiring personality, you can also follow him on his social media handles below: