First Penguin – Reshma Sharma

To celebrate Women’s Day, I decided to interview Reshma Sharma, karate expert and winner of the Kalpana Chawla Award for Bravery. I called her on March 7th to interview her. After a few minutes she told me that her liver has completely failed and she is waiting for a liver transplant surgery. For the past 1.5 years she has been suffering due to a rare disease called the Wilson’s Disease . I said “I am sorry to hear that you are suffering”. And she said to me “Don’t be sorry, I don’t need your pity, I need you to pray for me”. Then I asked her about her Karate and she said “I am continuing to do all my activities like always”. Wow.

I wished her and then requested her to answer a couple of questions over email whenever she feels comfortable. Over the last few days she told me that she tried to respond to the email, but one time after typing out her responses, the computer crashed.  I offered to take down notes over a call, if it was okay for her to speak to me. However, yesterday she sent me four scanned pages of handwritten notes.

Here are the snippets from her notes:

She has several degrees and diplomas –   BACS, MA in Guidance Counseling, LLB, Diploma in Self Help Group Management.  Even a a child, she was always an Outstanding Student who bagged a lot of prizes.  From a very early age she was drawn to bravery and decided to choose Karate as her career option and is a student of famous Karate teacher Shihan Hussaini. Her first Karate teacher is Karate Mani, Hussaini is the 2nd teacher and then she got trained by Malaysian teacher Sunny Pope. She runs The Dojo Chakra, a karate school.

It is also very apparent that she possesses an extraordinary commitment to community service – she teaches people from financially disadvantaged communities, nuns, transgenders, people living with HIV/AIDS, sex workers, visually challenged and the specially abled.  She has even trained Police Officers.

Reshma is famous was for popularizing amongst women, the use of the humble Chilli Powder for self-defense. I had asked her how she came up with this idea of the Chilli Powder and she says in her notes “It is an age-old technique used by Queens in historical times”. She also teaches women simple techniques like using a stone tied to the dupatta, hair pins and clips as weapons.  In this day, when women’s safety is a big issue, we should try to teach all our women these simple techniques.

I am in total awe of Reshma Sharma’s indomitable will. Any one else with her condition, may not be able to stir out of the bed, but Reshma goes about her regular job as if nothing is wrong. She said that she attended the book release function of Dr Radhakrishnan Pillai’s new book Chanakya’s 7 Secrets of Leadership. There she met D.Sivanandan , the famous former commissioner of Mumbai who couldn’t believe that a liver transplant patient was attending an event.

Reshma, all of us are with you in your battle with the Wilson’s Disease. The noble soul that you are, you will come out successful.

I want to finish this post with an appeal from Reshma Sharma to all of you “Please take time from your busy schedule to pray for me”.

P.S. This series is featured  inside Cognizant in the Cpecial newsletter Good Life Guide.  If you  want to nominate someone as a First Penguin, please write a comment or email me.


  1. Quote
    Subra (subscribed) said March 14, 2014, 6:30 pm:

    our prayers are with reshma – and with such a strong will and positive attitude, am sure she will come out a winner. and thanks so much sukumar for sharing these stories – it rekindles the best in each of us – and orients us to strive toward greatness…

  2. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 14, 2014, 9:28 pm:

    Thanks for the prayers Subra. Will compile all the prayers and send it to Reshma. Glad you like the stories I am sharing.

  3. Quote
    Celestine said March 14, 2014, 9:28 pm:

    Inspiring and courageous women!!!! May god bless her with good health!

  4. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 14, 2014, 10:06 pm:

    Courageous and inspiring woman indeed. Thanks Celestine.

  5. Quote
    Chandru said March 14, 2014, 11:33 pm:

    Our prayers will be there for Reshma. Very Inspiring !!!

  6. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 15, 2014, 9:42 am:

    Thanks a lot Chandru.

  7. Quote

    Its much inspiring,she is indeed a true soldier fighiting silently,& will come out of it.WE all pray fr an early recovery as sky is the limit for her, she has to do A iot for many social issues.MAy she be blessed,LUV you Dear.

  8. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 15, 2014, 5:49 pm:

    Thanks Sbabbar.

  9. Quote

    Reshma Di …
    A true source of inspiration for our generation n for the next in succession.
    She is a fighter n will surely fight the ailment n come out as a winner with her ever glowing smile and positive attitude.. Her courage and will power have no boundaries defined.. We all are praying for ur recovery n prompt health. It’s a pride to have known a women like u Di… Get well soon … Luv u …

  10. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 15, 2014, 11:27 pm:

    Yes Sneha. Reshma is truly an inspiration and I am sure she will get better soon.

  11. Quote
    Mummy n papa said March 16, 2014, 4:04 pm:

    Dear Reshma…
    U r the most beautiful person of our family. Your vibrant n lively presence keeps us in great spirits. We suffer as u suffer.. So lets face it together and fight it out. Take all the time u need to get well n once u return, there will be many more happy faces that u ll see.. Get well soon!! Everyone misses ur captivating smile and delightful presence.. Furthermore, U still need accomplish your unfinished social commitments. I know with gods grace, my brave child ll stand a winner again n pretty soon..
    Love u lots my child…

    Best wishes..
    Mummy n papa

  12. Quote
    Dr.R.K.Varma n Chanda said March 16, 2014, 4:20 pm:

    Dear Reshma …
    U r the one of the most inspiring n hard working gal we have known.. We pray for ur good health n recovery.. Get well soon so you can once again experience all the gratifying moments and delight life has to offer…
    Hope to see u back in the swing of your activities very soon.
    Best wishes
    Mama n mami

  13. Quote

    Dear resma Aunty
    You will definitely make it through.i will pray for you and ask Allah’ blessing for you.
    You are a very strong willed person.i never met anyone like you and therefore you will over come this
    Obstacle ,definitely !!
    Because I believe in you will over come
    And I believe in my prayers to allah.
    He will always be on your side when your alone ,you would always have his company!!
    May Allah bless you!!

  14. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 16, 2014, 9:34 pm:

    Thank you. Mummy n Papa, if you are Reshma’s parents, hats off to you both for raising such a noble and courageous soul.

  15. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 16, 2014, 9:35 pm:

    Thanks for the prayers Afrin.

  16. Quote
    Aarthi Ramesh said March 17, 2014, 7:27 am:

    When it is so easy to blame everything on fate and take a back seat and sulk, here is a woman who has gone past the hurdles and achieved more than a normal person can do. As they say in Art of Living – “Pain is inevitable, Suffering is Optional”, guess Reshma is living to this principle.

    Don’t worry Reshma, with all our collective prayers, am sure you will recover completely. Take care…

  17. Quote
    Kartic V said March 17, 2014, 6:07 pm:

    Yet another very very inspiring story and very appropriate in the context of women’s day. Our prayers with Reshma.

  18. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 17, 2014, 8:43 pm:

    Thanks a lot Aarthi.

  19. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 17, 2014, 8:44 pm:

    Thanks a lot Kartic.

  20. Quote
    Kavitha (subscribed) said March 24, 2014, 1:58 pm:

    Thanks Sukumar for sharing Reshma’s inspirational story around Women’s day.

    @Reshma – Our prayers are with you. There are so many miracles that happen in this world and your recovery would also be one. Thanks will be too small a word for all the imbibing of spirit of bravery you do to women around..Keep going..

  21. Quote

    Thanks a lot Kavitha.

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