Walking up the stairs in Suleman Chambers, I am experiencing the constant chain of confusing thoughts after a long college day, but it all seems to vanish as my desperate knock is answered by a smiling face and an ever so vibrant “GOOD EVENING!!” from Kanchan Pamnani. She is on her desk with a wide comforting smile even on a weekday and after her busy court sessions, injecting the same enthusiasm into the person that walks into her house. Born and brought up in Mumbai, she has been able to proudly keep up with the pace of the city despite her visual impairment. Kanchan was born with low vision which was followed by several surgeries at a very young age to tackle her eye problems that developed one after the other, such as squint, congenital cataract, retinal tears, Nysagmas (involuntary rolling of the eyes) and progressive macular degeneration rendering her blind by the time she turned 34.
She went to Walsingham High School, always sat right under the teacher’s nose to be able to absorb information better. She was very active in school. She participated in quizzes, debates, drama and always won prizes for GK. After school, she completed her Junior college from Hassaram Rijhumal College of Commerce and Economicsand went on to complete her BCOM from Sydenham College. She was more inclined towards studying science but the lack of equipment’s for visually impaired during those days not only drove away that interest but also made it difficult for her to pursue it . Intrigued by the amount of work her father dealt with, his infinitely occupied table and his way of dealing with the clients very much attracted her to choose law as a profession. Kanchan was a part of various committees, clubs and societies in college as well. She was a very dedicated and active member of the Rotaract Club that she joined in 1987. In her third college year she was elected as the President of the Rotaract club followed by Director of Vocational Service and the year after that of International service. As her college years ended, she also ended her participation in the Rotaract Club as the District Rotaract Representative of Rotary District 3140 with 42 clubs. With the guidance and support of her encouraging parents she was never kept back for anything because of her sight- impairment, rather they always devoted their time to device new methods so that she was able to learn and enjoy as many things possible and not miss out in life.
1987, black floating spots started to appear in front of her eyes which were redevelopments of her early cataracts. A surgery was immediately done but unfortunately it was followed by an eye injury which later developed into Retinal Detachment. As suggested by her family doctor she decided to go aboard for the next surgery. On returning from Cambridge after the operation, she enrolled into the Government Law College to pursue her law degree. Persistent were her eye problems and so was she throughout. The idea of becoming a lawyer did not seem to please her parents but she was committed to make it happen. She first worked for Dhru and company as an article clerk and soon after in 1991, started working as an independent advocate. To add to her academic wealth, in 1993 took up a Solicitors course in Bombay Incorporated Law Society, completed her LLM, and the year after that also finished the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test (Solicitor, Supreme Court England) from the Law society, England. She continued her professional career as she joined Thackker and Thackker as an associate and after a year in 1996 joined Pamnani and Pamnani. While practicing she meandered through doubtful clients but with perseverance and support from family and friends, she managed to conquer most of them. Her practice is mostly based on corporate, property and disability laws.
The chocolates and ice-creams in the fridge allow her to always stay as energized as possible. We together dwell into the world of information and imagination with the table in front filled with end number of reading materials. Current affairs from Sunday times or the celebrity tail piece on the second page of the Mumbai Mirror, she is very curious about the world. Similarly, we also never miss out the ‘health tips’ and ‘mindchow’ that’s on the top corners of the newspaper. Her face lightens up as she listens to the bed time stories by Enid Blyton and thoroughly enjoys Ruskin Bond or Roald Dahl with giggles as they’re read out. Kanchan has always been a voracious reader, allowing her-self to wander in the land of books so much that her assignments always remained undone. Her interest and abilities have allowed her to benefit various social causes as well, especially for the welfare of the visually challenged. When engrossed in listening about her experiences in life or childhood days with endless mischiefs, one becomes oblivious to her disability as she has left no stones unturned. I have learnt the joy of reading from her that adds to my language skills and reminds me age is no barrier to enjoy books of any genre. Second year in college is full of anxiety driven days with overbearing urges to manage everything and stress about what is in store for me in future. Thus this ritual of spending time with her at least once a week reminds me to believe in myself and take one day at a time.