After 15 long, difficult years, Subash Jamuna has finally done it.
The 38-year-old from El Socorro defied the odds and was called to the Bar on November 26.
What makes his achievement so remarkable is the fact that Jamuna has cerebral palsy.
“I feel a sense of accomplishment, relief and confidence because I started something and finished it, and that’s a great feeling,” Jamuna told the Sunday Express.
“Many people start something and don’t finish it, and it may not always be their fault. Some gifted people don’t have the support or financial means or encouragement. Whether you’re doing CXC, A-Levels or a law degree, emotional support is key. That was essential to my success.”
Jamuna is the fourth of six siblings.
His twin brother, Sharma, also has cerebral palsy but, unlike Jamuna, he is completely reliant on their mother for assistance, day and night.
“My brother was born worse-off than me,” he said.
Jamuna’s family treated him like anyone else.
Growing up, he was shy and introverted, but he had a keen sense of justice and fairness.
It was his father and cousin who, upon seeing potential in Jamuna, encouraged him to pursue law. But that would prove difficult.
In secondary school, he struggled to keep up with classmates. After graduating, he took a year off and did a few courses to keep himself occupied.
His mother, however, urged him to go back to school and, at the age of 19, he repeated Forms Four and Five.
“I decided that if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it properly. I will focus, do my work and try my best,” he recalled.
Jamuna gravitated to subjects he enjoyed: English, literature, history and principles of business, and he excelled.
The better he did, the more he began to push himself. He then started A-Levels, but suffered a setback in 2006 when his father fell seriously ill with kidney failure.
Days before his death, Jamuna’s father encouraged him to continue his studies, no matter how long it took to reach his goal.
Never gave up
In 2008, Jamuna started pursuing his Bachelor of Laws, but his struggles continued.
It was also financially draining, but never once did he think of throwing in the towel.
“Something told me that I had reached so far and that if I gave up, I would regret it,” he said. “I always knew that somehow, education opens doors.”
Jamuna has an uncanny ability to find humour in his circumstances.
“The advantage I have over people is that I have all the time in the world; I have no distractions. I will sit down and do my work, improve myself, try to get my passes and move on,” he said.
On his third attempt to pass his LLB exams, Jamuna got an anxiety attack.
Finally, after seven years, he earned his Bachelor of Laws in December 2015.
Jamuna then set his sights on Hugh Wooding Law School.
He wrote the entrance exam in 2016 up until 2018, but didn’t get through.
It felt like déjà vu. But, like his previous attempts, he refused to give up.
The turning point came in 2019.
Five weeks before the entrance exam, Jamuna pushed himself and studied past papers from eight in the night until three the next morning.
The effort paid off.
He got a congratulatory call from Hugh Wooding, saying he had been accepted into the law school.
Hugh Wooding was five times tougher than anything he had done before, but he worked along with fellow law students, whose support he credits for his success.
The day before he was called to the Bar in a virtual ceremony, Jamuna looked at a picture of his father and said, “Dad, I hope I made you proud.”
“The bottom line is that my father wanted me to do something to support myself. And my mother always said that if anything happened to her, she wanted me to be able to help myself and not have to rely on anyone,” he said.
‘Forget the haters’
Jamuna’s life story is one of perseverance.
He admits there were times in the past when he faced what he calls “indirect discrimination” because of his cerebral palsy, but it’s not something he dwells on.
For those in a similar situation, he has this bit of advice:
“Put your mind to something you want to do. Anything is possible. Once you take something seriously, people will take you seriously. And if you have haters... forget them. You will always have haters,” he said.
This country is light years away, with respect to the way the disabled community should be treated, said Jamuna.
It is the country’s loss if the disabled are discredited, he added as he reflected on the matter involving Veera Bhajan and the Equal Opportunity Tribunal that has gained national attention.
“All I can say is that if they put Veera on that tribunal, they are gaining a different perspective, and you need that point of view. Veera is a pillar of strength,” he said.
Jamuna would like to pursue civil law, but he hasn’t had a chance to relax in over a month, so for now, the Led Zeppelin and Metallica fan is enjoying his music and movies.
He doesn’t see himself as a champion for people with disabilities—at least, not yet.
“I try to be humble, I want to be a good example,” he said. “As an up-and-coming lawyer, I just want to learn more and hold my own. I try to be the best I can be.”