‘Adversity can open up opportunity’ – Punkaj Gupta, photographer and multiple sclerosis patient
In Part II of our photo essay on the Jaga Chitra exhibition, we showcase the power of art as healer and community builder.
PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 200 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
The Jaga Chitra exhibition, held at Bengaluru’s Rangoli Metro Art Centre this weekend, is curated by photography experts Anand Sharan and Shankar Subramaniam. It aims to raise funds for those suffering from multiple sclerosis and increase awareness about their plight. See our interview with Shankar in Part I of our photo essay here.
Founded in 1985, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (MSSI) is a patient support group dedicated to minimising the effects of multiple sclerosis, both on patients and their families. In multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the body’s own nervous system, causing victims to become increasingly disabled.
One of the photographers participating in the Jaga Chitra exhibition is himself suffering from multiple sclerosis: Punkaj Gupta, an IT manager in a BPO company. “The physical and mental effects of multiple sclerosis can be demoralising and lead to depression,” said Pankaj, in a chat with YourStory.
Multiple sclerosis cannot be cured, and this can lead to despair among patients, he said, unlike other diseases like cancer which can be treated with chemotherapy. Punkaj’s wife had cancer and recovered.
Mental and physical activity are needed for multiple sclerosis patients. Medication can cost upto Rs 35,000 per month, along with physiotherapy and rehabilitation. “I am fortunate that I earn enough to pay for my treatment, but there are others who cannot afford this treatment,” explains Punkaj.
To take his mind off the medical impairment, he has plunged into activities like art, photography and meditation. “Events like this fundraising photography exhibit help bring meaning to life,” Punkaj said.
“Adversity can open up opportunity. Adversity should not just be accepted but embraced and even welcomed,” he says. He jokes that he even feels like writing a book called ‘Thank you, Multiple Sclerosis.’
Punkaj’s inspiring story shows how adversity can actually spur creativity and a second lease on life. He and his fellow artists in the photography community called Thank God It’s Saturday (TGIS) are aiming to raise at least Rs 7 lakhs from their four-day exhibition.
Now what have you done today to be ready to overcome adversity and convert crisis into opportunity?
Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!