Beyond Writer’s Block: Writing With Physical Challenges

Celebrated astrophysicist Stephen Hawking used a communicator to write a book that guided readers to explore the vastness of the universe. Malini Chib, founder and chairperson of ADAPT Rights Group, has now used the very same device to churn out an autobiographical novel that takes readers on an inward journey into the mind of one disabled. A Bengali from Kolkata, Chib migrated to Mumbai a few years after she was born.

The launch of her book—One Little Finger—at the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival on Saturday (1/15/11) marked Malini’s return to the city from where the remarkable journey began over four decades ago.

Astonishingly, Chib used her left index finger to type over 50,000 words on a communicator’s keypad (a Herculean effort that took two years). Having Cerebral Palsy did not stop Chib from acquiring two masters degrees one in women’s studies from the Institute of Education, London University, and the other in information management from the London Metropolitan University.

In One Little Finger, Chib writes about a heartbreak when close confidant Zubair, with whom she had become very attached during her stint in Oxford, revealed he was gay. “The society still treats me asexually. Maybe, it is because of the disability in my body. Or perhaps, it is because I speak like a child,” she recounted when writer Jayabrato Chatterjee asked her whether she was treated like a woman.

Some activists bristle at the word “disabled” but Chib finds the word an honest one for her: “I cannot run away from the fact that I have disabilities. You have to give disabled people a chance. And you have to challenge them like my mom does. Well-meaning people pat us and say ‘very good, very good’. That hinders growth,” Malini argued.

It was Chib who led a fierce agitation that made organizers of Mumbai Marathon change the entry norms in 2005. Prior to that, the organizers banned “dogs, wheelchairs and vehicles” from the event. With greater visibility comes opportunities for what Michelle Obama calls, “Teachable Moments.”

Malini Chib writes, “What is needed in India is more visibility. The more people see us, the more their behaviour and attitude towards us will change. We won’t be perceived as some strange or sorry creatures.” 

“In One Little Finger, beyond the words lie grit, determination and traces of sadness. But what comes through in the end is the spirit to live.” ~ Subhro Niyogi, Times of India

Be sure to schedule a 15-minute complimentary book coaching session via email:  If we begin working together, my eBook—Writing From Life: A Wise Guide to Publishing Your Memoirs—will be yours as part of the coaching package.


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