Sujan’s friends, said “We were eagerly waiting for him [Sujan] to take the stage and energize the crowd like he did during the previous programs. It feels incomplete because he couldn’t perform this time.”

Though a significant day for a lot of people at the slum, the graduation ceremony seemed nothing out of the ordinary due to Sujan Pariyar’s absence. As a disappointed crowd left to go back home without watching Sujan break some moves on the stage, Samjhana, one of Sujan’s friends, said “We were eagerly waiting for him [Sujan] to take the stage and energize the crowd like he did during the previous programs. It feels incomplete because he couldn’t perform this time.”

Sujan has been frequently falling sick in the past couple of months. His parents claim that due to his disability, he has become prone to common sicknesses on a monthly basis. Unlike other children of his age, Sujan stands out because of his physical appearance—he is barely three feet tall at 15 years of age.

“When I was only five years old, I was given over-the-counter calcium tablets. My then, and still, poor illiterate mother didn’t know any better and gave me those tablets for my betterment but it backfired. How was she to know that a medicine to strengthen my bones would make them weaker instead? I had to spend months in a hospital because my bones got curved in an irreparable angle making me the way I am.”

There was no guarantee that an operation would fix it and the Pariyar family didn’t want to take a risk. Sujan is on medication that supposedly makes the bone harder and the doctors have given him a ‘steel support’ for his legs. “My elder brother, Simraj (20) lightly teases me sometimes—‘You would’ve been fixed by now if you had worn this thing’ he remarks. But it was giving me too much trouble and, anyway, I am fine with the way I am.”

Sujan is an active member of the Children’s Club which, as he claims, has given him a platform to continue doing something that he loves, boosted his self esteem and changed the society’s perception of him. In the recent shooting of a documentary by INCLUDED, Sujan said that if he was a mayor of his area he would reconstruct the sewers, create a proper dumping system, build a ‘Human Development Centre’ for anger management and conflict resolution amongst the people, conduct awareness programs and build a proper bridge over the rivers so that the children can go to school all seasons of the year.

“No one should suffer from a life-altering disease due to illiteracy.”

Report by Suhasha Malla