When Kozhikode-native Dr Fathima Asla, lovingly called Paathu, enters a room, one first notices her heartwarming smile. It justifies the name of her autobiography Nilavupole Chirikkunna Penkutty (A Girl With a Twilight Smile).
But little does one know that right from the third day of her birth, life was a challenge for Asla. She was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta or brittle bone disease. She started using a wheelchair but it has never posed a barrier to achieving her dreams.
“I attended a regular school and my mother used to carry me to my school. Sometimes I used to take an auto to school. When I was in Class 11, the state government sponsored a three-wheeler for me on which I started going to school. I used to drive on my own,” said the 26-year-old to Newz Hook.
Later, she completed her course as a homoeopathic doctor from Bachelor of Homoeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) at NSS Homoeo Medical College, Kottayam, and was a house surgeon at ANSS Homoeo Medical College hospital. “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,” said the doctor to The New Indian Express.
Six surgeries and 65 per cent disability could not deter her confidence.
In 2020, Asla met Lakshadweep native and digital artist Firoz Nediyath through some common friends. Firoz’s mannerisms and personality charmed Asla. Soon, they fell in love and they got married a year later. On the wedding day, Firoz surprised Asla by gifting her a fully automatic wheelchair. They’re hoping to take it on their ‘all-India trip’.
Asla, who was once termed ‘unfit’ by the medical board to take up the course she dreamed of, aspires to live in a country with better facilities in public spaces for the disabled.
The young doctor has nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram and influences hundreds of people even without the tag of an influencer. Her autobiography was released in the year 2020 and became a best-seller in Kerala.
“Fathima Asla — specially-abled doctor from Kerala winning wheels of life”, published by The New Indian Express on 22 October 2021.
“From ‘brittle bone’ to doctor: Asla takes it in her stride with a smile”, published by Onmanorama on 10 September 2020.
“Brittle Bone Disease doesn’t stop Fathima Asla from being a motivational speaker!”, published by Newz Hook on 5 May 2020.
Edited by Yoshita Rao