THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: All her life has been one roadblock after another. Despite being faced with obstacles in life, she heads them with an agility seen by no one. She is an artist, an author and whoever she wants to be in life.
Neha D Thampan was born as normal like every other child. After four months, her parents noticed there was something wrong with her posture. When she was taken to the hospital for additional check-ups, the doctor confirmed cerebral palsy on first look. Years went by. At the age of 10, she was taken to a hospital in Velloor for rehabilitation and she was diagnosed with cervical compression. It was a shocking moment for her family as they had treated her for cerebral palsy all those years.
Despite her disability, Neha developed a passion for drawing and writing poems. She was awarded the Best Literature Award instituted by the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities in 2013 and Pheonix Award for Children in 2016. She also proved her acting skills in the award-winning documentary ‘Neha Ente Koottukari’.
She is also adept at cartoon sketching. “I love cartoon characters, it takes an hour to finish a mini character like Pikachu,” Neha said. She published her first book ‘Thumbi’ which is a collection of poems when she was in Class IV. Her second book ‘Mazhathulllikal’ got published in 2010. “She is a mermaid in her world. In her language, she is the queen of the sea. Even though she cannot walk, she has wings of imagination and she flies over the sky of colours, art and words,” poet Sugathakumari had said about Neha in a magazine article. In Class VIII, her poem collection ‘Chayangal’ was released by then speaker G Karthikeyan.
According to Neha’s mother, schools in the city have no proper washrooms for the disabled. The walkways and parks are not wheelchair friendly. “She cannot move freely in her wheelchair,” said V S Jaya, Neha’s mother.
Jaya also pointed out that a proper system of exam screening should be introduced by the government. “Neha uses the help of a scribe, they are allowed only 10 minutes of extra time,” she said. “Exams are conducted together for children from all the disabled category including autism which is not right.”
Neha expands her areas of interest by learning new techniques in digital painting. She wishes to go out of state to pursue her higher studies.