Aisha Chaudhary: Singing in the life boat

(Applause) My name is Aisha Chaudhary and I’m 15 years old. I was born with an immune deficiency, with a life expectancy of only one year. I had to undergo a bone marrow transplant at the age of six months. Recently I’ve developed a serious illness called Pulmonary Fibrosis – a hardening of the lung, as a side-effect of the transplant. And due to my illness, my life has been full of challenges. And I’ve often felt like I’m in the middle of a shipwreck. And today I’d like to share with you, Five important lessons I have learnt through the ups and downs of my journey. The first lesson, is to Believe In Miracles. Miracles are good things that are unlikely to happen. The chance was one in a million that I would be born immune deficient. And I was. But then, a miracle occurred. Where there was only 30% chance that I would survive the bone marrow transplant. And I did. But then, there was less than 10% chance that I would develop lung issues post the transplant. And I did. And now there’s only a 40% chance that my lungs can be cured. And I believe that they can be. Because I believe in miracles. (Applause) The second lesson I learnt, was- You should always live in the moment. This is a picture of me, about six months ago. You can see that I had an oxygen tube in my nose. Despite it all, I have a huge smile on my face. All because I’m holding my new puppy, Rolo. Each moment I spent cuddling with him, I’d be bursting with joy. And all the pain and the sadness that seemed so overpowering, in that one moment just seemed to melt away. If you look at your whole life ahead of you, You will find endless problems that you eventually have to face But if you start to look at life day by day , hour by hour or even moment by moment, you will find that your happiness will just begin to multiply. When I was just stuck in bed, unable to move, or even go to school, I thought hard about the things that I was able to do. I could sit and I could put a smile on my face. I wanted to model. I wanted to see what it was all about, to have my pictures somewhere out there. You can see in this picture, I’m all dressed up — ready for a photo shoot. Even though I’m sitting on that wheelchair and inhaling oxygen. As I sat there and I posed for the camera, it made me forget about all the things that I was incapable of. It was a fun thing for me to do. And it was great to see what goes on in a photo shoot. What I’ve learnt is that you should do what you can. Instead of feeling bad about the things that you’re unable to do. The third lesson I’ve learnt is that in every difficulty, one can always find an opportunity. For the past few years, I haven’t been able to attend school regularly like the rest of my friends. And this year, I’m taking math and art as subjects, leaving me with a lot of free time. But in this difficult time, I have managed to find the opportunity to pursue my passion for art. In fact, I found that I’ve sketched and painted more during my illness as compared to the time when I was well. On this slide are two pieces that I’ve done recently. Here’s a portrait of a baby. Done with dry pastels. It’s actually from a photo I took myself at a family gathering. On the right, is a piece I have done for the album art for the music that my brother has composed. And his song is called, ‘Drowsy Elephants’. The fourth lesson I learnt, was – Never forget to dream. This is a picture of me in my wheel chair, back when I couldn’t even walk two steps. Each night, I would dream. I would visualise what may seem like the smallest of things. I’d imagine myself walking around the market, in London with my friend. I’d dream of dancing endlessly at my cousin’s wedding. I’d visualise things down to every little detail. The colour of my outfit, which song I’d dance to, The setting of the stage, and my family celebrating. I dreamt of running around the garden with my two dogs. I wished that I’d get out of that wheel chair, and actually walk to my bathroom. I’d play a movie in my mind of all the things, that seemed completely impossible, in that one moment. And guess what? I did walk around the market in London with my friend. And I did dance at my cousin’s wedding. And I did get out of that wheel chair. And now I get to stand here and talk to you ! The power of the mind is limitless. Remember, that all things happen twice. Once, in your mind, and once, in reality. (Applause) Finally, the last lesson I learnt, was that – If everything else seems to fail, Get a dog. Pets are truly the best medicine. They are known to be extremely therapeutic. I found that Koby, the labrador, was extremely empathetic towards my situation. Back in January when I was unable to walk, Koby himself became very unwell. His legs trembled, and he couldn’t walk. I felt that he was mirroring what I had been going through. I was devastated to see him in this way, and I thought something terrible would happen to him. I pleaded with Koby to walk. And I told him that if he did, then I would try and walk a few steps as well. And by the next day, Koby was up and about, running around me happily. And I was so delighted to see him like this. Because in my heart, I knew, that I would get better, just as he did, some day. So as we now know, there’s always something in life to sing about. Something to be grateful for. I am grateful for my loving family, my friends, my dogs. In fact, I am even grateful for the challenges that life has thrown at me, for which I have experienced life with a much greater intensity than I would have otherwise. And I do believe, that my soul would have no rainbow if my eyes had no tears. Thank you for listening. (Applause)

6 thoughts on “Aisha Chaudhary: Singing in the life boat

  1. I don't like people who treat children like children in an authoritative way….some children are more wise, strong and smarter than many adults. She is no ordinary girl. She is a brave soul who knew how to fight life's battle with courage.

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