A Dream Painter

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A Kashmiri family adopted an abandoned minor girl in Bangalore and brought her up for two decades. Now, restricted to a hospital bed for two years, the 35 years old destitute is painting her dreams and living with the help of hospital staff, reports Sakib Showkat and Nadiya Altaf

Bed ridden in one of the corners of the SMHS hospital in Srinagar, Saima, 35, is struggling hard to finish her new painting. A daunting task, for a cripple, to brush strokes with such perfection. Bodily she appears only in her teens. She can’t take the weight, fingers are deformed and her feet disfigured like a bow.

Originally from Bangalore, Saima is admitted at the hospital (ward number 6) for the past two years. Most of her needs are being taken care of by some good Samaritans as well as by the hospital administration. Saima also sells her paintings, earning her a decent amount in surplus.

Saima’s story is replete with struggles and grief. Her journey from Bangalore, when she was only 10 years old, to Kashmir is dotted with pain and hardships.

“I lost my parents when I was just ten years old. Then a noble family from Kashmir, on a visit to Bangalore, adopted me and took me along with them. Initially, they even tried to look for my parents, however they couldn’t find them,” she said

For 19 years Saima stayed with the same family at their Karan Nagar residence. They took care of her and she was very much happy and content with her life. “They treated me very well and provided me with a dignified life,” Saima said, refusing to reveal the name of the family.

Her life, however, took a U-turn when she suddenly fell ill one day and was admitted to the SMHS hospital. She was diagnosed with Rhemotied Arthritis, a disease involving painful inflammation of body joints. Initially the family bore the costs of her treatment and took good care of her. As her condition aggravated with each passing day, they also left her at the mercy of God.

“I underwent a hip replacement surgery too, which cost them (family) almost Rs 2.5 lakh, but then I became a burden on them too and they left me,” she wailed while showing us her documents.

Her hip replacement surgery was carried out by Dr Sajid, who later became a guardian angel for her. When she was abandoned by everyone, it was this medico who came to her rescue.

“Dr Sajid took care of me when there was none around, he introduced me to Sheezan, an NGO worker and a student herself. Both these persons are no less than angels for me,” she said. Since then, these two persons have been a constant source of help for her.

Sheezan, Saima said helped her most. She got her registered through the district administration, for various allowances and benefits. Because of her efforts she was entitled to specialized care by the hospital staff. However, Saima laments that the hospital staff is showing the least concern and doesn’t adhere to those orders.

“They don’t follow such orders. I was given a maid by the administration for some time. She also left. There is no accountability of such orders. Some people pass very bad and offensive comments about me. There are people who don’t like my presence here,” she said with teary eyes.

Her continued stay in the hospital had her many friends from amongst the paramedical staff. Some of the staffers like Yasmeen, Umair and many others bring her different things daily from their homes. “I have a family here now,” she admits. “All these people care so much about me, I couldn’t have found this much love and affection anywhere else.”

It is not just her daily needs that are being taken care of by these people. They are even helping her to keep her passion alive. “They provide me with all the raw materials needed for my paintings, besides helping me to sell them,” Saima said. It is this passion of painting which is constantly fuelling her desire to live so that she can showcase her talent to the whole world.

“I have an Instagram page where I upload my paintings and get reviews from people. I have got so many customers from there as well,” she said. “The current internet ban, however, is proving very detrimental.”

Both Dr Sajid and Sheezan said that they are helping her because of humanity. For Sheezan, as an NGO worker, she said that it is her responsibility and duty. The other paramedical staff also stated the same reasons when asked as to why they are helping her.

Saima is not hopeful to meet her biological parents due to the long time gap. Each day inching more and more close towards destitution, she finds refuge in painting. Her dream is to showcase her painting to the outside world.

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