“The marvellous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse” – Helen Keller
The beauty of the above lines is perfectly epitomised by the 22-year-old Siddharth Bapat. At the age of three, Siddharth was struck down with meningitis, which left him completely deaf.
Siddharth’s hearing loss came as a devastating blow to his family, as it threw up many challenges in front of them. Two of these challenges required immediate attention.
The first challenge was to ensure Siddharth does not lose his ability to speak. Deafness is often accompanied by the loss of language altogether. In order to secure his future, it was important Siddharth learned English over his mother tongue. Help came in the form of an experienced speech therapist and very soon Siddharth was able to read and speak fluent English.
The second challenge was to equip him with suitable hearing aids. In the three years following his loss of hearing, Siddharth tried different hearing aids. Hearing aids, although help the hearing process by amplifying the residual hearing; they come to little use for those with little residual hearing left. Post meningitis, Siddharth had almost no residual hearing left and hence no benefit was derived even from the most sophisticated aids.
This is when Siddharth’s family decided to go in for a cochlear implant, which is a permanent cure for deafness. In August 1999, Siddharth was implanted with the Nucleus 22 cochlear implant. The surgery was performed by Dr Mohan Kameshwaran at the Madras ENT Foundation, Chennai.
Interestingly, Siddharth’s was the first case of paediatric cochlear implant in South India. After initial difficulties of coping up with leaving behind the world of silence and isolation, Siddharth was back being a normal child with a bright future ahead of him.
Originally from Pune, Siddharth was mainstreamed successfully and attended a reputed school in Bengaluru. He has been a good student throughout and topped the class in Maths and Science in the 10th boards.
Over the past years, Siddharth has upgraded the processor he uses for his implants. He is currently using a Nucleus 5 processor, which embodies all the technological developments in the field. “The latest processor has significantly improved the quality of my life,” Siddharth says.
Siddharth is currently in his last semester of Computer Science Engineering in a reputed college in Bengaluru. Having steadily maintained a first class with distinction in all the previous semesters, he has his fingers crossed for this one as well. He hopes to pursue higher education in the US after gaining some work experience. Incidentally, Siddharth has been placed in TCS in the campus recruitment programme.
Siddharth is also a passionate footballer. He is a diehard fan of Manchester United and spends a great amount of time in the field, practicing. He also likes sketching and listening to music. Although his journey so far has not been easy, it is Siddharth’s strong desire to excel that has helped him come so far. Siddharth adds –
Life throws many challenges that one has to overcome in the right spirit – my dream is to travel the world, experience different cultures and eventually do something connected with my passion for football.