KOCHI: With the consummate grace and ease of a professional danseuse, she grooves adeptly, matching her foot steps to the tunes of a folk song. Mahima Mathew, a gifted performer in all her rights, is, however, oblivious to the awestruck gazes following her prosthetic leg. Mahima, who was born with congenital amputation, has been learning dance from the age of 4.
“I remember the response of the people when I performed before an audience in Lakshadweep where I went for our rural camp. Until the performance got over no one knew I don’t have a leg. I always had people coming to me to say that I am an inspiration to them. But if you have a league of people supporting you it is not a big deal,”says Mahima.
It is her parents - Mathukkutty, a bible missionary and Molamma, a house wife - who are the unequivocal support system of Mahima, ever since, she could remember.
“Mahima only had a 10-15 cms long stump in the place of her left leg,”says Mathukkutty, Mahima’s father. “But we never treated her like a physically challenged child. Instead we made her do everything a normal child would do. When she turned four, based on expert advice, we took her to a nearby clinic and got her a prosthetic limb,” Mathukkutty recalls.
Mahima was extremely inclined towards arts from a very young age. She avidly listened to the music flowing from the television and moved her hands and head to the tunes. In the anganwadi, which she used to attend from the age of four, she actively participated in the action songs. Soon, Mathukkutty realised that his physically challenged daughter has a potential dancer hidden in her.
“Mahima expressed her desire to learn dance and we took her to a teacher. But the first day itself she came back disheartened. The teacher had told her, she could never dance. I went to the dance school and told the teacher, please let her come and watch others dance we will pay the fees no matter what. That is how she got to learn the first steps of dance,” says Mathukkutty. This loving father, sees Mahima’s disability as a gift from god. Hailing from Kanjirappally, Kottayam, Mahima’s family is settled at Eerattupetta these days.
“We went through years of mental trauma when we realised our first born has a problem. But today I know we wouldn’t have been this proud had she was any other way,”Mathukkutty exerts. Mahima also had a cleft lip which was corrected after a surgery she had undergone in Hyderabad.
At 24-years of age Mahima has crossed many milestones in her dancing journey. In 2008, she received an award from the Kerala Vikalanga Federation. This talented girl, who has an MSW from Kottayam BCM College, is undergoing a civil service training. But her dreams to foray into the dance world continues.
“I will be starting my classical dance lessons next month. I found a teacher from Cherthala, Sajish as well. Until today folk dance was my forte as it wouldn’t put much strain on my legs. But I have decided to give Bharatanatyam a try,” says Mahima.
Ask her if she ever felt any discomfort performing on stage and pat comes her reply, “No, never,” that’s the unrelenting spirit of this inspiring young girl.