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Losing Right Arm in a Naxal Attack Did Not Stop Her from Being an Architect

Shreya Sen Shrivastava, who lost her right arm in a dreadful Gyneshwari train accident but has not lost her determination to succeed against all the odds.

Life is unpredictable. It sometimes throws us into situations from where it seems extremely tough to come out. But those who make the courage and see hurdles as opportunities to grow, become the real heroes. One of such fighters is Shreya Sen Shrivastava, who lost her right arm in a dreadful Gyneshwari train accident but has not lost her determination to succeed against all the odds. The tragic incident did not deter the iron-heart lady from working towards her will of becoming an architect. 

A 22-year-old aspiring architect- Shreya- was returning from Kolkata to Bombay in Jnaneswari train along with her mother and brother on May 28, 2010, when an unfortunate incident took place. The train in which she was travelling hit by a speeding goods train just minutes after the derailment by the Naxals in the West Midnapur district of Bengal. At the time of the accident, she was sleeping in the upper berth. And due to a sudden jolt at around 1:30 am, she fell from the birth on to the footboard and became unconscious.

When she regained her consciousness, she found herself waist deep in debris. Her right hand was smashed and cut off. Her brother ran around to look for some help but none of the locals came forward due to the inherent fear of the Naxals. After some time, a retired army officer came to help her. Though the rescue train came after 7 hours and this delay had probably worsened the condition of her mutilated arm. She survived the accident but her arm had to be amputated.

Shreya Sen Shrivastava

Shreya with her brother, Saurabh Sen 

She was bedridden due to continuous surgeries for the next one and a half month. But unlike other people who get depressed by the unexpected change that an amputation brings, she calmly listened to the doctors who were saying that she would be missing her limb for the rest of her life.

Although she questioned like what she would do as an architect without a hand, she was not ready to give up. She faced the situation with a smile on the face and trained herself to do most of the things with her left hand. She started drawing with her foot and writing with her left hand. And the icing on the cake was she topped the Mumbai University!

In her own words, “I don’t see the limitations the others see in me. I’m enough, more than enough, and my fate will do just fine resting on my left hand”.

Her story grabbed media attention, and soon she received a crowd-funded prosthetic robotic arm. She has never thought of herself as a disabled person. Instead, she prefers to be called a differently-abled person. In her recent talk on ‘Disability to Ability, she has also stressed the need for making public spaces accessible to all. Recently, Vertica Dvivedi, the editor-in-chief of Surfaces Reporter Magazine also highlighted the plight of disabled people and emphasised on designing accessible buildings for disabled people under any circumstances.

Shreya Sen Shrivastava

Shreya with her husband, Prateek

A few months back, Shreya Sen married to the love of her life, Prateek Shrivastava, who was an IITian from Madras. Shreya was a student from IIT Roorkee. Both of them were toppers in their respective IITs and were chosen for an Indo-German exchange programme for their master’s research. By a curious twist of fate, they both met for the first time during their research work in Germany in 2013 and fell in love.

Today, Shreya conducts workshops, educate budding architects and even gives motivational speeches. 

Image and Text Courtesy: The Better India

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