The one thing that probably is most striking about Fathima Asla is her disarming smile. For, it needs a great deal of energy to smile given the kind of adversities she has faced in life.
The book of Asla’s jottings, 'Nilavu Pole Chirikunna Penkutty' (The girl with a twilight smile), will be released soon.
Fathima was diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) or brittle bone disease, a degenerative bone disease, when she was three days old. As she grew up, and got wheel-chair bound, a medical board reported that she ‘was unfit’ for medical education. But, she is now a final-year student of Homoeopathy and is on the cusp of becoming a medical doctor.
Her mother, Ameena, used to carry her to the Government School, Punoor, Kozhikode.
Asla secured 90 per cent marks in the Class X examination. She opted for the science group for her Plus Two but many people tried to detract her citing practical difficulties. But Asla was determined.
She missed out on a lot of classes due to her illness but she secured 85 per cent marks for Plus Two. She got enlisted for an entrance crash course conducted by the school. She secured a rank in the medical entrance but had to face a separate interview with the medical board due to her special condition.
Asla entered the room in a wheelchair and a member on the medical board was quick to conclude that she was ‘unfit’ for medical education. But Asla did not lose hope. She took a lot of pain and practised walking using crutches. Her family stood by her through all this.
The family got the support of Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobaker Musaliar and Markaz for treatment and education. Next year, she appeared for the entrance again and re-appeared before the medical board.
By then, she had undergone a surgery and was able to use the crutches better. She is doing her BHMS at NSS Homoeo Medical College, Kottayam. The final examinations, delayed due to COVID-19, is expected to start next month. Punoor Vattikunnummel Abdul Nasar is Asla’s father.
So, for a delightful rounding, Asla has the last laugh (or smile).