Sarabjit Parmar: Writing Books, Climbing Mountains
In my humble 26-or-so years of life, I have met and known so many different types of people; from attention seekers to wall flowers, and from go-getters to those full of excuses. As someone that has always been independent, forward-thinking and with a burning fire in my belly, I would have to say it is the latter of these people that I have had the most trouble understanding – but then I realise, maybe I too have been one of those people at different points in my life. It is when I come across people like the beautiful Sarabjit Parmar however, that it hits me – there really are no excuses when it comes to following your dreams and making them a reality, note to self first and foremost. Allow me to tell you her inspiring story.
Sarabjit Parmar is a radiant 31-year-old published writer hailing from her hometown of Leicester in England, and someone I have known of for a while now as she is a close friend of an online friend of mine. She has always intrigued me but for some reason we never quite crossed paths until recently, when she contacted me to share her story. Immediately I was drawn to her and immediately she became another inspiration for me to add to my ever-growing list of inspirational folk. You see, Sarabjit has a condition called Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy – a muscle-wasting syndrome which contributes to her inability to smile, frown or articulate any facial expression. It is also the reason she has had a speech impairment since birth and why she ended up in a wheelchair at the tender age of fourteen. But if you look back to what I mentioned earlier, Sarabjit is a published writer! Yes, a published writer with her own book – a dream that I know some people double her age still haven’t managed to fulfil, and a dream that many, unfortunately, take to the grave.
Climbing Mountains is Sarabjit’s published diary; a diary she kept and wrote in during her final year of study at the University of Derby. You may be thinking ‘it’s just a diary’ but no, not really. Sarabjit has faced challenges growing up that for some of us are completely beyond our comprehension. Her everyday life is worlds away from ours. Living in the first world, going to university and obtaining a degree is just a normal course of action for us – definitely taken for granted by, dare I say it, the majority of us. Going to University for Sarabjit however, was a whole new challenge in itself and her diary was where she recorded her highs and her lows, her good days and her bad days. With a love for writing which stemmed back to when she was growing up, upon graduating from University, Sarabjit was determined to get her diary published – which by this time had resulted in a 50,000 word manuscript – and after
a few setbacks, published it was in October 2014, making one of her dreams an amazing and very real reality. As well as being her dream, the reason for sharing her thoughts with the world was for Sarabjit to be able to share her message: that for everyone, even in the face of extreme adversity, anything is impossible with a little determination and mounds of self-belief.
Although I have only communicated with Sarabjit via email and text message, one thing I can say very confidently is this is a woman that oozes light, warmth, love and determination. I believe very strongly in the power of the mind and the power of thought, and Sarabjit is a living, breathing, fighting example of this: a woman that has overcome, and is everyday overcoming, any obstacle that life has placed in her path. The term ‘disabled’ does not fit into her vocabulary because Sarabjit does not see herself as less abled than anyone else – and she has proven this by achieving things that some of us can only wistfully dream of.
I asked Sarabjit, who is currently working on her novel and a children’s book (another challenge but very exciting!), what her views were on current media representation of people living with disabilities and she told me that people with disabilities are simply not represented enough – “Can you honestly tell me that you have ever seen movies where the love interest is around a person with a disability? How many books have you read depicting relationships with people who have disabilities?” – and it’s true. Where are the disabled heroes from our TV screens? Where are the disabled heroines from our blockbuster movies? And where are the disabled lovers from our best-selling novels? Just a little food for thought.
I was also keen to know what keeps Sarabjit motivated to carry on, even on her toughest days, and she gave me the most humbling, beautiful reply – “Life”, she said. “I wake up each day thankful that God gave me another day, and that alone motivates me to get ready for the day ahead, get on my laptop and relentlessly type away my next book until I am tired.”
Growing up, talented Sarabjit used reading and writing as a means of escape – a hideaway from what back then was what she saw as her harsh reality. What I am in awe of now, is the way that Sarabjit is fully accepting of herself and she is not trying to escape from anything. She writes for the sheer love of writing (as a writer myself, something that I can very happily relate to); she writes to inspire others and ultimately, she writes to make the world a better, happier and more positive place.
Her advice for anyone with a dream is this: “Cut out any negativity in your life. Start believing in yourself, stay focussed and determined and no matter what anyone says, never ever give up. Even if you feel like giving up, don’t. You hold the power to make your own dreams a reality. Believe it.”
I could not think of a better title for a book written by such a wonderful and inspirational human being. Climbing Mountains is not an easy task: you will stumble, you will fall, you will get tired, you will want to give up – but trust me, when you get to the top every single moment of struggle will be completely worthwhile because the view will be amazing – Sarabjit is the most incredible example of this. May we all discover our own abilities to climb mountains, and may we all enjoy the breathtaking views awaiting us when we reach the top.