Kuala Lumpur, Sep 20 (ANI): Despite being born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and no cheekbones, Malay-Indian Selva Kumar Vijayakumar, 26, recalls how he braved his way through teasing to become a successful businessman.
"Kids at school called me all sorts of names, from cacat to hantu. But what could I do? But my parents never sheltered me from the teasing.
"The more you expose 'special' children, the more they learn. My parents did not keep me locked up in the house. They helped me face the real world," the New Straits Times quoted him, as saying.
After undergoing his first facial reconstructive surgery in Adelaide when he was 2-year-old, Selva had to undergo 16 more of them.
Vijayakumar recounts how difficult it was for him to get through school, since he was also born with dyslexia.
"It took me twice as long as other children to grasp the concept of a book. My parents had to constantly guide me and paid a lot for my tuition classes.
But things started looking up when he started secondary school.
"My situation had not changed, but my attitude did. I could defend myself. When I was teased, I made the kids realise it was not my fault. They understood me and I made more friends this way," he says.
Vijayakumar's parents did not expect him to get a college degree.
"They were happy that I finished school and expected me to get a certificate or diploma but I wanted to learn and experience college life. So I picked Adelaide to obtain a marketing degree. I graduated in 2006," he says.
It was easier to adapt in Australia, he says, as their awareness level is much higher, he says.
"Being optimistic and positive is what you make of it. Life is a gift. You only have one shot, however long you have to live. No matter what is around you, that should not be a factor. In the end, it is life skills that teach you how to survive in the world," he concludes. (ANI)