I’ve had three encounters with Stephen Hawking in my life till now. My first encounter was when I was in class 8th. I used to go for science tuitions near my house where one day a kid was showing the class a shiny book which his father had got for him from his trip to the States. He told us that the book was very famous and rare and the weird looking guy who was on the front page was a very famous scientist. When my turn came to hold the book, I saw planets and stars on the cover and guessed that the wheelchair guy must have discovered planets (Although I secretly wondered how he managed to go that far on his wheelchair!). The book was called “The Brief History of Time” and the author was Stephen Hawking. We had a test shortly afterwards where I scored 50 out of 50. Maybe looking at a scientist before a science test is lucky, I thought. I have a pretty sharp memory and this thing was somewhere in my mind all the time.
Five years later I was sitting in my second and last attempt for law school entrance exam, CLAT and as I had strategized earlier, I jumped to the General knowledge part of the exam as soon as I got it and read the first question. “Which of these authors has authored the world famous book “The Brief History of Time”?” The planet-discoverer was at option (b). Laughing, I moved on. I had given CLAT earlier and was not so lucky with the National Law School I was getting that time. I had a decent score in CLAT this time and although Mr. Hawking helped me get only 1 mark, I oddly thought him to be my lucky charm for the exam.
The third time was in 2009 November when my grandfather was diagnosed with a deadly disease ALS and he asked to me research about the disease. Wiki told me that ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a degenerative disease that eats up whole body of the patient except the mind and the heart. No causal organism of this disease was known and there was no cure to this anywhere in the world. Devastated, I read on that most of the patients die within 2-5 years of diagnosis, the disease eating them up slowly, the hands, legs, neck, and throat and so on. The worst thing is that the disease does not touch the mind, which makes the patient all aware to what the disease is doing to his body. Mr. Hawking, to whom my grandfather now looked oddly similar, was smiling in the next paragraph. He was longest surviving ALS patient in the world. This third encounter with Mr. Hawking made me read all about him and his research works. He is still working at an age of 69 years in spite of being completely paralyzed and has a computer installed on his wheelchair which he uses to write books and communicate. Mr. Stephen William Hawking is a lucky man, others are not that lucky.