Quirky Stranger

January 28, 2022

A freshly minted teenager, Zehn Kashyap, is currently based out of New Delhi, India. She is a student of Grade 9 at Vasant Valley School. Zehn is a passionate, empathetic, focussed student with an incredible capacity for hard work. She represents the growing population of students worldwide who have special needs. Zehn has developed a special brand of empathy (her own superpower!) that arises from being able to walk for a mile in her fellow students’ (albeit rather painful!) shoes! Her story of rising above her disability and not letting it define her, is exemplary and inspiring for all students. Recently selected to be a member of her schools Outreach Council, she feels strongly about and is committed to giving back to the community that has enabled her to be what she is today. Zehn is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Mental Health Workshop for Girl Up. Having seen how it literally takes a village to pitch in she hopes to be able to pay it forward in a meaningful way by virtue of her rich experiences.

Pledge to Take Action

My name is Zehn, and I am a 14-year-old student currently based out of New Delhi, India. I represent the growing population of students worldwide who have special needs. I have developed a special brand of empathy (my own superpower!) that arises from being able to walk for a mile in my fellow students’ (albeit rather painful!) shoes!

A published, award-winning poet and international speaker, I am passionate about advocating for causes close to my heart namely destigmatizing disability, mental health, and girl and women rights, specifically in the context of disability.

Every one of us is oftentimes thrust in situations where we meet someone who does not conform to the ‘normal’ as we have been conditioned to understand it. In such situations, our response is often sympathy or glossing over the obvious imperfections. In the moment, we do not realise that what is most required is kindness by way of action and deed.

Differences are, after all, what set us apart and make us our original, authentic selves. Wouldn’t it be nicer then, if we embrace those quirks that make us who we truly are? Through my poem ‘The Quirky Stranger’ I hope to shine the light on this very pertinent, and oft-neglected topic.

Check out my poem + my recitation of it below and I do hope you enjoy it and help me spread the sunshine on this important topic!

A Quirky Stranger
I was strolling down the beach, when suddenly I saw,
A girl was sitting there and, on her canvas, did she draw.
Familiar she looked to me and so nearer to her I went,
And closer up, I heard her hum, every time she bent!
And when she straightened up, the humming it would stop
Before resuming her work, she’d smack her lips like pop!

Suddenly she saw me and nervously laugh, did she,
So, I walked closer and she started talking to me.
“You see when I’m working and thinking on my feet,
Humming makes me focus and keeps my mind upbeat!
When I want to concentrate, I make that popping sound
I’m sorry that you heard it; I do it when no one’s around!”
Nervous with a stranger, her wringing hands could I see,
Though trying to hide them; her quirks were visible to me

I walked up really close to her, and gave her a big hug,
In a way her sweet little quirks, my heart strings did tug.
“You don’t need to hide your quirks or say sorry for them too,
For they are what define you and make YOU truly YOU!
Remember that your differences, are YOUR super power
Use it very wisely and above others you will tower!”
With that I gave her a wise lesson, in herself to believe,
And hoped that one day, her dreams, she would achieve!

Pledge to Take Action