KOCHI: Her daughter suffering from a rare childhood disease, husband enduring three heart attacks and a bypass surgery, and a spine surgery for herself last year… the hurdles Shimi Sankar, 41, had to face seemed unending. All of that, however, could not stop this Thrissur native from pursuing her dream of becoming a lawyer. Now Shimi has secured the 23rd rank in the Kerala Law Entrance Exam (KLEE), and has a career as a lawyer within her grasp.
Sheer hard work and faith in herself kept the fire within her raging, says Shimi. Her daughter was three and a half years old when her health started to deteriorate. Issues over dowry worsened her living condition. They were forced to leave her in-law’s house in 2010, and have since been staying with her family at a rented house in Ayyanthole, Thrissur.
“The journey has been rough so far. Due to financial constraints at home, I could not focus on my final-year examination. I didn’t even expect to complete my course. So, simultaneously, I enrolled for a PGDCA course, which was in demand back then. I completed it by scoring high marks and got a small job in my hometown itself,” Shimi said.
After marriage, at 24, a Pandora’s Box of troubles had opened, she said. “After leaving home, my husband had his first heart attack at his workplace due to the shock, and his condition worsened,” said Shimi, who now works as a clerk at a Thrissur court.
Her husband, Satheesh P V (43), is employed at the Ayurdhara pharmaceutical company in Thrissur. After recovering from the first heart attack, Satheesh suffered two more attacks that left him in a critical state in the hospital.
“They said he wouldn’t survive for more than two weeks. But I had to do what I could to gather money and give him the best treatment. That’s when Lisie Hospital was suggested and he was shifted there. At the same time, my daughter’s condition worsened and she was admitted to the Amrita Hospital. Shuttling between hospitals went on for months. I got through those desperate times with help from doctors and a few friends,” said Shimi.
Among the many kind hearts whom she met along the way, those working with a Thrissur-based NGO -- Solace -- extended financial support to the family. Aiwanjali (14), Shimi’s daughter, was diagnosed with the condition Juvenile Dermatomyosis. It is an autoimmune disease that mainly weakens the muscles and affects the skin, but in some kids it affects the internal organs too.
“A frail Aiwanjali came to me when she was eight. She initially responded to treatment but four months later developed TB with fluid collection around her lung, and with liver affected. But she responded well to the treatment. She was placed under home oxygen for days. The grit of the mother in managing all these health issues and challenges is quite inspiring,” said Dr Suma Balan, a paediatric rheumatologist based in Kochi.
Aiwanjali is now in Class 5, and healthy. Preparing for PSC exams, noting down current affairs, and reading law books thoroughly enabled her to crack the KLEE,” Shimi added.