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Shreya, The Lion Heart

Last updated on: December 8, 2010 13:01 IST

Shreya, The Lion Heart

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Rediff.com's year-end section looks at people who wrote the India story this year.

Shreya Sen is a lesson in courage for all of us. The 22-year-old lost her right arm in the tragic Gyaneshwari train mishap in May, but hasn't lost her zest for life or the will to succeed.

She faces life with a smile in the face of daunting odds.

It is that smile and her indomitable spirit you notice before you also notice that she is missing an arm (please read her story here).

The tragedy has not deterred this courageous young lady from working towards her dream of becoming an architect.

She just topped her college in the fourth year exams and is completing her internship while preparing for her final year examination.

In a chat with Rediff readers on December 2, Shreya spoke of how she is tackling life head-on. With her easy demeanour and sense of humour, she imparted a valuable lesson to us all.

For those of you who missed this life lesson, here's the transcript:


Shreya Sen says, Hi guys. I am here to take your questions now!


badri asked, ur inspiring shreya. thanks..

Shreya Sen answers, at 2010-12-07 17:26:32i am inspired by many people myself... someone like you probably!


Bharat asked, Hi Shreya.... you are truely an inspiring person... Hope ur story gives hope to millions of people who are victims of life. All the best!!! May you reach better heights....

Shreya Sen answers, Thank you, Bharat.


Kirti asked, Hi Shreya, it is such a pleasure to speak to you. What plans do you have for yourself - and many congratulations on topping your exam!

Shreya Sen answers, My current plan is to take whatever problems that i face... and in the near future i plan to do my master's


cappal asked, hi shreya .. congrats for gr8t life. keep your head high and reach out for success.

Shreya Sen answers, Thanks Cappal. I need to always keep my head high and my positive attitude strong.


sajisai asked, Hi Shreya.. Many a times we crib on the smallest of challenges that we face in life.. Your life is something truly inspirational.. Looking up to you and following your principles, we can become better human beings... and pl accept my humble salute..

Shreya Sen answers, i accept your thanks and your friendship


pruthvi asked, what is your goal of your life

Shreya Sen answers, Well Pruthvi, tell you what actually i never planned to be an architect i was planning to be a doctor. But the CET crashed! and i just gave an entrance exam and here i am passing my architecture now with flying colours :-) hard for me to believe even now that i will be designing some of the best structures in our country's future so, the goal's never set but it just came along.


rony asked, hi shreya kemon acho ???

Shreya Sen answers, ami bhalo achi, i am enjoying this first experience :-)


abhi asked, God have given unlimited power to each one. You will get more power/ energies in different ways to compensate what you lost and leave happy life.

Shreya Sen answers, God gave me immense power, and i felt it when someone as unexpected as my small brother went in search of help to bring his sister out of the wreckage and its his courage which reinforced my belief in god and the belief that there are better things in life to live for.


Raja asked, Congrats Shreya. Well done, keep it up and all the best for your future, God Bless u

Shreya Sen answers, thanks, i guess that i have a special place in god's grotto :-)


If you want to help Shreya get a prosthetic arm, please send your donations to: Shreya Sen, account no: 20054037029, Bank of Maharashtra, Cotton Green Branch (IFSC code: MAHB0000316) or mail her a cheque at: D-4, Highway co-operative housing society, Shivshrusty, Kurla (East), Mumbai-400024. SWiFT address: MAHBINBRRD Bank of Maharashtra, Ranade Road.


Image: Shreya Sen

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'My perception of life never changed'

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rekhasn asked, hi shreya, well.... congrats!! on topping the exams... it's a great achievement in terms of courage. had you sat at home, with grief and sorrow, you would not have achieved this. you have shown that, if there is determination, nothing can stop us. you have shown that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.. and WHERE THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY. my heartfelt congratulations on this achievement and may you achieve all your goals with the same spirit...

Shreya Sen answers, well, rekhasn sleeping on the hospital bed i had two options in front of me -- either to accept the condition that i am in and try to improve it in any way possible. or to forget about it and become a burden on my cheerful and happy family. so i just took the first option :-) so far... i hope :-)


janhavi asked, Hi Shreya - I am really proud of you. Just for your information there in a German company in Mumbai who makes artifial limbs. Otto Bock is the name. Please get in touch with them if you wish. Their number is 25201268.

Shreya Sen answers, Hi Janhavi, thanks for your help but i've already contacted them and currently they are not able to come up with the correct kind of prosthesis for my case. what i mean by that is i need movable fingers which might aid my in making my building models because my thesis is still left.


Inspired asked, has perception of life changed in any way? Has the tragedy in effect motivate you to go to higher level? How can one have same passion to life?

Shreya Sen answers, no dear. perception of life has never changed. i am a very emotional person by nature and nature inspires me in every way possible. truthfully speaking since i was hospitalised with a fractured hip bone, i was bed-ridden for one and a half months and it was a real pain to not be able to see any greenery from my bed. even more than the injections this is what pained me more. so you can say that i was more inspired to get back to my two legs as soon as possible. although my doctors tried to avoid that because they felt that i needed some more healing time :-)


firozbasha asked, congrats.....keep it up and inspire others who are like u 2 fight the world which are greedy this days.

Shreya Sen answers, the world will always be greedy. and believe it or not we are also greedy in a small teene tiny way :-) but it depends on where you project your greed on. if your projecting it on your dreams and trying to turn it into reality, then it is a good greed. but any other way to harm others, it'll come back to you some day or the other.


Sonal asked, Who inspired you to come up and stand against all odds?

Shreya Sen answers, my mum! her name's mala sen.


sanjay_1979 asked, Congratulations and wishing you all success. You have the courage and urge to learn. Its very easy to loose hope in this country. Happy to note that you have come out with flying colours

Shreya Sen answers, truthfully, i lost hope on my way here many times too. but i always recovered from it.


rk asked, problems will be forever...but really most of the people never understand what exactly is meant a real problem or difficulty, so for such people in the country...do something and make them understand that actually they dont have any problems yet !!

Shreya Sen answers, its difficult for me to make someone else understand that their problems can disappear, but just believing in this saying that life has both ups and downs after a down time the up time will surely come. this is what i believe. and my up time has already arrived :-)



Image: Shreya tries out a prosthetic arm

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'If you've ever made a sad person smile, your life has meaning'

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riya asked, hi shreya how r u feeling when u r praised on net so much

Shreya Sen answers, well riya, praises and brickbats do come to me although praises come on the net and brickbats come directly! :-)


dheeraj asked, Hi Shreya, hope u now realise better the worth of human life. Please do a lot urself for the people who need your help. Make your life a gift for everyone including urself.

Shreya Sen answers, people around me already feel that.


kuldude asked, Hi Shreya, wats your ambition in life ??? do you think it might get delayed due to the accident???

Shreya Sen answers, thats a question i am still trying to answer. and although the answer is in my head, i wont disclose it until its done :-)


tom asked, I salute your success. You should be a role model for all those children who skip studies on one pretext or other and frequently crip their parents for latest gadgets

Shreya Sen answers, So how am i a role model for children who insist on getting gadgets! i really dont know :-) because studies is not the term i'd use for my course. its pure passion.


Krish asked, Hi Shreya, It is absolutely fantastic to hear you have topped your exam. Many congratz to you.

Shreya Sen answers, thanks


Diesel asked, What is your message to people who face most difficult constraints in life to realise their dreams ?

Shreya Sen answers, concentrate on the good parts of life that you have already felt.


Sonal asked, Shreya even I am physically handicapped due to polio in my right leg which happened in Bhopal Gas Tragedy but I topped at M.Tech(IT) level and really admire ur courage.

Shreya Sen answers, wow! excellent. actually its wrong for you to get inspired from me. it should be the other way round! would like to keep in touch with you.


KAPIL asked, As an architect my best wishes to you and your courage, hope young arcitects gets inspiration from you.

Shreya Sen answers, thanks kapil. hope that my juniors feel something like that too :-)


satyaa asked, i have tried so many things for my career in my life but i failed, what is ur message to me

Shreya Sen answers, you might feel that you failed in your chosen career but many things in life are much more important than even a career. if in your life you have ever made a sad person smile then i think there is meaning to your life. and do continue to try.


Anirban asked, Hi shreya Keman acho?

Shreya Sen answers, are you my doc?


Diesel asked, Shreya, wishing you all the best in life.Regards to you and to your fighting spirit. Am based in Dubai and every time I shall see Burj Khalifa, I shall remember that Shreya has her determination taller than the building. God bless you.

Shreya Sen answers, thanks diesel. really you know i like to go more underground :-)


Disha asked, what r ur future plans?

Shreya Sen answers, current future plans is to placate my thesis professor and convince him that i can do this! :-)


Sree asked, Y did u just keep quiet when you knew that had the medical emergency was provided on time, the worse for you could have been avoided?

Shreya Sen answers, yes. i actually felt like god was arranging things on deadlines. if one moment had been lost i wouldnt be talking to you folks.


Vijay asked, How did you get this determination. It is exemplary.

Shreya Sen answers, probably you will find someone like me and that someone would be my life partner :-)



Image: Shreya with her brother and mother before the accident

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'I don't feel unfortunate'

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jai asked, its extraordinary to have will power like you, i salute you for that. the best part what i liked in you is that you do not have any ill feelings about life, that is really an amazing attitude

Shreya Sen answers, when life is so unexpected that you dont know what is going to come next then its kind of an adventure i wouldnt like to miss. having fun now


Disha asked, What kind of structures do u want to build?

Shreya Sen answers, any structure for which there is a need.


Disha asked, Do u still feel unfortunate about that accident?

Shreya Sen answers, no because there were people who were buried below me who were even more unfortunate than i am.


sushanta asked, Shreya, hi, god bless you, my daughter pooja is in 2nd year Architecture, I know how difficult it is to draw with both the hands, how you manage, beta?

Shreya Sen answers, i am basically doing freehand sketching right now because in final year we are officially allowed to use computer softwares to make final drawings. so i am not facing too much of difficulty although i miss my hand sketches.


Shyam asked, first and foremost, congrats!!! how comfortable are you in typing by using your left hand? no regrets, please.

Shreya Sen answers, i am not bad. can manage :-) although i am slow.


girish asked, What was the force behind you to do miracles?

Shreya Sen answers, i have not done any miracles. all miracles have been performed by god who saved me.


Disha asked, guess u love singing also.. in the previous article i read that u sang a song at the accident site.. which is ur fav song, and y?

Shreya Sen answers, the final song in titanic because if youve seen the movie the scene in which the song is picturised is exactly the same when i was singing it at the accident site. it gave me immense strength because it speaks about life going on after whatever...


balpun asked, Congratulation Shreya, What was your first thought came in your mind when you surview from the train accident? and how you are feeling now?

Shreya Sen answers, well, after i was removed from the debris my immediate thought was whether my hand could be saved or not. but somewhere along the way when i was being taken to my hospital i knew that probably it was too late to save my hand. and i accepted it then and there. from then on i accepted whatever problems that have come my way. but always looked for and remembered the good times too


thomas asked, Hi Shreya, hats off to you keep it up, I too am hearing impaired and I know what it means to live with a disability, at this junction I salute your exemplary courage bravery and never say die attitude . all the best always

Shreya Sen answers, Thanks thomas :-)


Amit1974 asked, Any plans for marriage in near future

Shreya Sen answers, well plans do exist although i dont like to go public with it.


sushanta asked, SHreya, Tomar Ma Babake janiyo amar pranam, it is because of their courage and the steely confidence, India is going to produce one more great Architect, you.

Shreya Sen answers, thank you sushanta, amar baba ke jana bo. surely.


aaaaa asked, Hey this is Saikat.what do you do to overcome stress

Shreya Sen answers, i sing!


prash asked, Hi.. do u feel phantom limb sensations?

Shreya Sen answers, phantom limb sensations have reduced now. but i used to feel it a lot during my hospital stay.


Shreya Sen says, Thank you very much for talking to me. Have a nice evening.



Image: Shreya enjoys a walk on the beach in Kerala

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