In 2004, Jisha Rahman read an article on the visually challenged music composer Afzal Yusuf in a supplement of a Malayalam newspaper supplement. She was impressed and happy to know that Afzal had surmounted his drawbacks to embark on a career.
A few months later, when her family saw a matrimonial advertisement in the newspaper, regarding Afzal, Jisha told them to go ahead. At that time she was staying in Pattambi, where her father worked in the Public Works Department. In May, 2005, Afzal, along with his parents, Dr KK Mohammed and Fatima Yousuf, came to see Jisha.
At their first meeting Jisha liked Afzal, but the composer had a lot of apprehensions. “Afzal specifically asked me whether I had any problems because he was visually challenged,” says Jisha. “I said I had no issues about that. Then he asked me whether there was any pressure from my parents. Again I said no. Finally, he enquired about whether I was influenced by a feeling of sympathy. I smiled and said no.”
The marriage took place on August 20, 2005, at the Aluva town hall. Thereafter, the couple went for a brief honeymoon to Nelliyampathy before they settled down in Thrikkakara, Kochi.
Asked about her husband’s plus points, Jisha says, “Afzal is peaceful most of the time. He cares a lot for the children - daughters Hena Fatima, 7, Fida Fatima, 6, and son, Abdul Rahman, 2 - and plays with them whenever he has the time. He also has learnt to adjust to all types of situations.”
Interestingly, Jisha does not listen to music. “I have no idea of Afzal’s songs, even the hits,” she says. “When he composes a new song, he makes his mother hear it. She is very interested in music.”
When Afzal is composing he goes through a lot of tension and does not like to be disturbed when he is working. “That is his only request,” says Jisha. “I am used to it, so I don’t get upset.”
But Jisha does get upset because Afzal is on the phone all the time. A voice software enables him to identify the caller easily. “I would say that it is his only negative trait,” says Jisha.
Afzal has a room on the first floor of his house where he has a keyboard and other instruments. This is the place where he spends a lot of time. “Sometimes, he listens to music on the radio or on the TV,” says Jisha.
For Afzal, to function smoothly, everything has to be placed in the right place. So, in his cupboard, the shirts and the trousers to wear outside are placed on one shelf, and the clothes he wears at home are put on another shelf. “The towels are placed in another area,” says Jisha. “Afzal has a bath on his own, apart from his breakfast. At the dining table, there is a fixed place for him.”
Thanks to his childhood training by his parents, Afzal walks around the house as if he can see everything. “I don’t think he is any different from a sighted man,” says Jisha. But now and then Afzal does knock against a chair or a stool. That is because the children play inside the house and a chair gets pushed out of place. “But Afzal has got used to it now,” says Jisha. “If he goes to a friend’s home, he needs to be taken around the house only once to know the location of the furniture.”
For the couple, the birth of the children was their most memorable event. “Afzal told me his happiest moment occurred when our first child Hena was born and he held her in his arms,” says Jisha.
When asked to give tips to youngsters who are about to get married, Jisha says, “Behave well with everybody. There are others in the family, apart from the spouse. I have three children and each has his own nature. That is the same with the adults in the house. They might say things which we might not like, but we have to learn to adjust. Also, you should marry only if you are sure of making it a success. Otherwise, it is better not to tie the knot.”