Preethi Srinivasan is a former state-level cricket player who has taken on the University of Madras after having been denied admission for a distance education programme after an unfortunate accident left her quadriplegic for life.
The 34-year-old has launched Soulfree, a charitable organisation to help those with severe disabilities lead a productive life with dignity and purpose.
dananjaypuri: Could you tell us a little about your accident? what exactly happened?
Preethi Srinivasan: My accident was a real freak accident that happened on the beach of Pondicherry when I had gone on a college excursion. We were playing in thigh deep water when a receding wave tripped me up and I stumbled and fell face forward into the water, the moment my face went under water, I felt a shock like sensation travel throughout my body and then I could not move anything.
Everything happened in a split second, there was no hard impact, I did not hit a rock, there was not even a drop of blood and my life as I knew it was over. There is no logical or medical explanation for why I broke my neck and suffered a spinal cord injury. I guess you can only it fate.
tushar: Could you tell us a little bit about the near death experiences?
Preethi Srinivasan: I have had two, one in 2001 during which I found myself focusing on my own body from the ceiling and the only thing I could focus on was grandmother's guru's photo and the next thing I knew I was in my body again.
The second experience was on July 9, 2008, two days before the tenth anniversary of my accident. It was a bit severe because for almost 8 mins I was without breath and my body had turned blue. The fact that I came out of it alive without brain damage is a miracle.
rakesh: Your advice to people your age?
Preethi Srinivasan: First of all, know that you are not invincible or immortal. We must all take basic precautions like not drink and drive, not speed or use cell phones while driving and do rash things that may look macho and cool in front of friends, but can destroy your life, all it takes is a moment of misfortune.
The other thing I would like to say that there are people in your world who face extra challenges like physical and mental disabilities, please do not reject them or be indifferent to them. A little support and encouragement from your side can go a long way towards improving their lives and putting a smile on their faces.
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