On Tuesday morning, I woke up to the sad and shocking news of Dr. Akash’s demise. Dr. Akash, who had been a great source of inspiration- humble and down-to-earth, and yet a proud stammerer who opened his presentations accepting he has a stammer. Though it was difficult to digest this development and the circumstances, all we can say is life can never always be fair. Yes, we also have to accept this bitter truth!
My memories with Dr. Acharya goes back in 2009, when I was taking my first steps towards acceptance. I had started writing very often on TISA blog. Little did I know that there was this co-founder of TISA from Surat, who silently followed all TISA blog posts.
One fine day, Dr. Akash Acharya contacted me on Orkut (popular social network in those days) and told me that he read my blogs, and wanted to connect with me for a long time. He then introduced himself to me, and I was pumped up with his encouraging words, to write more.
My first meeting with Dr. Akash was in Feb, 2010 in Pune. Keith Boss from the British Stammering Assocation (BSA) was visiting India and SHGs in India. We had a 2 day interaction with him. Dr. Akash Acharya came all the way from Surat, with his mother for this interaction. I had gone there with Santosh (Now in Mumbai).
Dr. Akash and his mother were staying in the adjacent room in the logde. When we got some free time, Dr. Akash invited me to his room- for some time together with him and his mother. This was my first interaction with him in person. He was cheerful, little humorous and loaded with ideas. He shared some of his ideas for TISA, which was beginning to evolve. He discussed about NSA conferences, and how he has a vision for a TISA national conference. He even jokinly said- “Now that we found someone from Goa, we can think of our first National Conference in Goa!”. We then discussed a few more things about our personal lives, careers and hobbies. Dr. Akash’s mother was very loving and she also participated by telling us how she encouraged her son and helped him with his stammering.
Fast forward to 2016, and I was indeed organizing a TISA National Conference in Goa (though not the first edition). Dr. Akash was very much keen in attending the National Conference in Goa. He said on mail- “I have been disconnected from TISA for some time, with this I would love to reconnect…” He did it, and in style. On Day 3, he gave a presentations on “Reflections on Speech Therapy”. He shared his therapy experiences, and his reflections and learnings from the same. He took all the questions patiently.
My second meeting with Dr. Akash Acharya in Goa was also fulfilling. Interacting with him and his mother after a long time was a great feeling. This time, I noticed a more mature and composed Dr. Akash Acharya, much more focussed about his ideas. After the conference, he told me how happy he was to reconnect with TISA and contribute by giving the presentation. He wanted to go back and revive the Surat SHG.
Dr. Akash Acharya will be missed dearly. He will stay in our memories. The footprints of inspiration that he left behind him will continue to make us strong.