KOCHI: For the past couple of years, dowry and dowry-related atrocioties has been the topic of discussion in Kerala. The fact that women are to be valued more than the gold and money their family can shell out, is being addressed on a large scale. This is why the wedding of Dr Fathima Asla and Firoz Nediyath is relevant at this point.
Kozhikode native Fathima has been struggling with brittle bone disease since she was a kid. For her wedding, her husband Firoz gave her a wheelchair as wedding gift — a gesture that would go a long way in terms of empowering those who dare to dream above their disabilities.
For Fathima, Paathu as she is lovingly called, the battle began just three days after she was born. However, being diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta or brittle bone disease didn’t stop her. Her parents, though financially struggling, encouraged her to study and helped her become a doctor.
“I was fascinated with doctors because they have helped me since I was a kid. I wanted to be like them, help those like me,” says the house surgen at ANSS Homeo Medical College hospital, Kottayam. Fathima is 65 per cent disable, and had undergone six surgeries as a kid. She can walk very short distances now with the help of a walker. She also penned a book ‘Nilavupole Chirikkunna Penkutty’, an autobiography that discusses her life as a differently abled person.
Fathima met Firoz — a digital artist and MFA student at Fine Arts college, Thiruvananthapuram who hails from Lakshadweep — last year through a mutual friend. They fell head over heels for each other. “Our parents were very supportive of the relationship too, which was delightful. Everyone wants to feel loved and respected by their partners. Firoz doesn’t treat me with pity or sympathy. Rather, he sees me as an equal, someone who can dream and do things just like him. Wahtever little insecurity I was harbouring about myself before meeting Firoz is gone now. I want to go on an all-India trip with my new authomatic wheel chair,” quips Fathima.
The couple’s love bloomed during Covid. Firoz adds how the wedding was also a message to the society. “I want to tell everyone to be that person supporting specially disabled people to live their life to the fullest. It is not about sympathising with them, but enabling and encouraging them,” says the youngster.
Firoz also also talks about how travelling with Fathima has made him realise how our public spaces are non-disabled friendly. “We boarded a bus from Nilambur to Kozhikode. The bus’s foot board was not disabled friendly. When I was carrying her into the halted bus, other vehicles would honk loudly behind the bus. I doubt how many of educational institutions and tourist locations have disabled-friendly toilets and ramps.
Lack of these spaces makes specially-abled people isolate themselves,” he says. Fathima adds that her vision in life is to address these issues and make Malayalis more sensitive to these aspects. “We have launched a new YouTube channel ‘Kadalum Nilavum’ which will feature our travel vlogs and thoughts about making our society disabled friendly,” signs off Fathima.