Chennai’s author explores cerebral palsy in her first book

Chennai: If you are living at the top of a multi-storey apartment, what do you see or hear from your balcony? You peep at the tiny buildings surrounding you? Hear the noise of blaring horns?

While most of us see and hear only this, Sundari Sivasubbu, who lives on the eighth floor of an apartment in Tiruvanmiyur, sees life and experiences positivity sitting on her wheelchair. This drove the author who was born with cerebral-palsy to write a book named, A¬†Bumblebee’s Balcony.

News Today had an interaction with Sundari Sivasubbu, once a banker and sub-editor, now an author, about her book, her journey and more.

Talking about her book, Sundari says, “I love the balcony and the freedom it offers to be ourselves and hence I chose this as part of the title which explores various facets of living with a disability. However, the book is not about disability, it is more about looking at life’s challenges positively.”

Sundari, while discussing her journey, recalls how her college friends used to give her name for all literary competitions, poetry, essay writing, etc, without even asking her. “Many a time, when I wasn’t able to climb stairs they have almost carried me to the auditorium and made me participate in writing contests. This induced the passion of writing in me,” she says.

The writer says, “I was born in a small village in Srivaikuntam, near Thoothukudi. I was born in a government hospital and for the first one hour I did not cry. Within that hour, all the cells in the cerebellum got damaged. This affected all of my physical activities including balancing, co-ordination, hearing, vision, walking and even sensory perceptions. However, my cerebrum was intact and so was my cognitive ability. When I was one, my mother got suspicious. However no one could find out what my condition was since we lived in a small village with less medical awareness.”

She was not able to go to school like any other child at the right time. “But, I spoke at an early age and started identifying people quickly. My memory power and creativity was good. At home, my mother started teaching me. I joined a school when I was five years old. Nevertheless, it was very difficult since I was not able to move around without someone’s help,” recalls Sundari.

Though her childhood was spent going to multiple hospitals and various treatments, nobody was able to say what her condition actually was. Each time she met someone, they suggested another doctor, but none worked. “The same time, my parents were also going through social stigma, prejudices and stereotyping. Some considered me a curse and others only showed sympathy. This is when my parents decided to shift to Chennai and start a new life,” she said.

In the city, they were introduced to a special school. “For the first time, when I was nine years old, we first heard of the condition cerebral palsy at the special school I was enrolled in. We understood that it was not a disease but a condition of muscles and nerves and that it was lifelong. I continued to pursue my education and did B.Com and MA in Communication,” says Sundari.

She then went on to be a sub-editor in an English daily in Chennai.


“In future, I will be writing more for children. To start life with a right attitude, children need to read books and those books have to be positive,” she states.

Sundari was effusive about her mother, Sivagami. “My mother’s courage is one thing that I should mention. I am what I am today is because of her. After being a housewife for 10 years, she studied special education course after coming to Chennai. From someone who was not able to understand her daughter’s condition to a counsellor, she has come to the stage where she strengthens thousands of children’s lives. She is truly amazing and inspiring.”

Write to Sundari and wish her at [email protected]

“There is an inspirational story. Once scientists did some calculations on bumblebee’s body-wing proportion and, according to aerodynamic theory, they concluded that a bumblebee should not be able to fly. However, these bees, flap their tiny wings in their own unique way and fly. Despite what others say, bumblebees continue to fly and I think a lot of people are like that. They fly despite judgements and prejudices!” smiles the enthusiast.


P T Usha