Cindy Chilaka lost her left leg at the age of 14, following a ghastly motor accident. The make-up artist and hairstylist was a skilled athlete, which inspired her childhood dream of wanting to be a footballer. Though that dream is believed to be unachieved because of the accident, Cindy believes that she is still living her dream.
In this exclusive interview with EDITH CHUKU, she narrated her growing up experience, the accident, how she pulled through the trauma, relationship, her inspiration, new found passion, among others.
Let’s hear your growing up story, the funny and odd experiences you had, mostly as a child?
Growing up, sure has its ups and downs. But growing up in a Nigerian household was and still is amazing, even though I always received part of my own flogging (laughs).
I grew knowing only my mom’s part of the family because we were always at my grandparent’s (maternal) and moreover my dad was always traveling, so we rarely got to see his part of the family not until I became a little bit older, say 10 years of age. I’m the only girl, the other three are boys, I’m the oldest.
You can trust being raised in an African household and being a girl. I was shouldered with the responsibility of taking care of my brothers because my mum was always working. My favourite chore of all was sweeping the house, especially if there is a new broom in the house. I always want to test it first.
How friendly or chaotic was your neighbourhood?
Talk about growing up in a neighbourhood where everyone knew each other, I had to be careful on how I behave unless you want to get home to my mom saying that mama Chisom or mama Nkechi said this or that or saw you with this or that person. There was always that one neighbour that I didn’t really know, or that house in the neighbourhood full of young boys that I was always advised to stay away from.
How did you lose your leg?
I lost my leg through accident when I was 14 years, I was rushed to a hospital and spent two weeks there before the doctor declared that my leg has to be cut, that’s how I lost my leg.
How did you feel when that announcement was made?
You can’t imagine it, I don’t even have the word to describe it. I was just 14, it’s an experience I don’t wish anybody. When the doctor announced that my leg has to be cut off. Aall I can remember is that I cried like I have never done before. I cried to show that I didn’t want it.
What was the first thing that entered your mind?
The first thing that entered my mind was that my friends in school will laugh at me. I just couldn’t imagine looking different, the first thing was how I will be laughed at in school.
How did you finally make up your mind to allow the doctor amputate your leg?
I didn’t. In fact, my parents made the decision for me because I didn’t accept to do that but my parents
convinced me that they will fix it back.
Did you ever contemplate taking your life because of this?
No, never. It was really not easy, at all but, my family gave me the love, confident and care that I needed to heal faster, and here I am.
What’s the worst thing anybody has ever said to you because of your state?
The worst thing was when one of my friends on Facebook was trying to date me and I said no to him, then he said, ‘I don’t blame you, I am trying to help you’ again he asked me, ‘do you think you are useful in your life.’ I was shocked, depressed and started crying.
Generally, how has life been since then?
Well, I have found the true meaning of life and it still remains in me to this very day. In between these negatives come the positive areas. It is in these areas that I see a much larger area of life that is more enjoyable to be in. The happiness in these areas is always strong from its beginning to end. I think that when it does end there is a knowing that one will find it returning someday in the future, where it left off with the negative taking its place. Life becomes a flowing entity for us all. One goes from good to bad to good, again
What are the things you were passionate about that you can’t do anymore?
Football. I used to love and play football in school before, but right now I can’t play it again, but I’m still living my dream because when one dream fails, immediately conceive another dream and start living it to fulfilment. Nothing is lost until you give up. Football was a childhood dream that was affected by that accident, yet it gave birth to other dreams, and I am living them in gratitude.
What’s your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is that I don’t want to be hurt by any man.
What’s your dream man?
I want someone who will not harm me but be my best friend, that I can trust to be faithful, loving, funny, responsible to the relationship. Someone that will take ownership over his own desires and wishes, I want someone who isn’t afraid to let me into his heart, I want to feel I’m important in his life, not just there to please him, I want to be pleased too. I want to have someone who is kind, patience, compassionate, passionate, a giver, romantic, sensible, rich or poor does not matter.
What inspires you the most?
For me, being challenged and going out of my way to push myself to the next level is inspiring. Sometimes life needs changes because things have become stale or too predictable. Challenges break that mood and the ideas and excitement that come with it create inspiration.
There are people who are going through same, and are yet to overcome the depression and trauma. What’s your advice to them?
My advice, you live to learn, grow, enjoy life, persevere and do what fills your soul and fulfils your dreams! Now, how do you go about this? You face your life, take the decision to move on and do it. There are many people whose most fundamental needs are lacking, like the terminally ill or the desperately poor who obviously find it quite difficult to find happiness. Even so, I personally have found people in that condition that attained happiness.