KOCHI: Life was hardly ever been kind to Jilumol Mariet Thomas, 28. Suffering from Thalidomide Syndrome and born without hands, even daily chores appeared insurmountable for her. Despite this, Jilumol has emerged triumphant, capable of managing things on her own, and even learnt driving! She drives her car with ease using just her legs. Her life is an inspiration for all.
Driving a vehicle had been her dream-- she fantasised driving her own car through the streets of Karimanoor, her native village near Thodupuzha — since childhood. “One can either sit and wail about things one can’t do or overcome fear and emerge victorious. I chose the latter,” she says. It was in 2014 that Jilumol approached Thodupuzha Regional Transport Officer (RTO), requesting that she be allowed to take the driving licence test. She was asked to bring a copy of the licence of a similar person who had obtained a driving licence anywhere in India. Jilumol’s painstaking research in this regard yielded results when she found Vikram Agnihotri -- the first person without hands to get a driving licence in the country.
In 2018, Jilu bought her own car, a custom-built Maruti Celerio-Automatic. “It was on the RTO’s guidance that I bought the car and made alterations,” she says. No one in her family knows driving and Jilu learnt it herself within the compound walls of Ernakulam YWCA, where she resides. She is a graphic designer at Viani Printings.
“It was through my own efforts that I bought a car. I had to do a lot of convincing before my parents -- her father N V Thomas is a farmer and mother Annakutty Thomas a homemaker — agreed,” she says. But she is yet to get her vehicle registered and obtain a driving licence.
“I had moved the High Court in 2018, seeking permission for driving. The Centre has also given its nod to me. Now, the state government has to take the call. The officials were sceptical during the driving test. I have been refused a licence, but I will fight on and make my dream come true,” says Jilumol.