by Basit Jamal
SRINAGAR: A man who has serious deformity is living alone and earning. It is just not an ordinary story in an era when people see families helping each member to stay afloat as an economic unit.
Syed Farooq Ahmad Farooqui, the 40-year-old phocomelia patient from Chowdribagh Budgam, was born with deformed legs. The congenital disease of phocomelia resulted in the inadequate development of Farooq’s legs, but it could not deter his desire to live a contented life.
Farooq has been earning and managing his own expenses since his early adulthood. The youngest of three siblings, Farooq did tailoring for 14 years.
“Despite facing hardships due to my underdeveloped legs, I learnt tailoring when children of my age spent their time in games and gossip”, said Farooq. He had mastered the profession of tailoring when an ophthalmologist prescribed him to quit tailoring to protect his eyesight.
Born with deformed legs, Farooq couldn’t risk losing his vision and gave up the profession.
Soon after quitting tailoring, Farooq apprenticed as an electrician for a year at Habba Kadal, Srinagar. With little proficiency in electronic repairing, he opened a shop in 2003at Nagbal, Ganderbal.
“I was a good tailor, but my fate is filled with uncertainties,” Farooq said. “Whatever I like is either taken away or something happens to me and I have to quit the things half-done.”
He used to commute on a tricycle given by CRC (Composite Regional Centre) to go to Habba Kadal until he met with an accident on March 7,, 2006 at Zainakote, leaving him in the pool of blood in the middle of the road. He nearly lost his left hand in the accident, which still lacks vigour due to multiple surgeries and metal pins.
Farooq took care of his ailing mother for 18 months before her demise in 2006. The afflictions of his mother’s untimely demise plunged Farooq into depression and he spent over three months in his room.
“It still hurts when I recollect the memories of my ailing mother,” Farooq said. “Despite being specially-abled, no one came forward to help my unfortunate mother and me.”
Farooq has been requesting the Social Welfare Department (SWD) for three years to issue a three-wheeler scooty. But to his utter dismay, the Medical Board Officer of Budgam is denying to sign the form citing the reason of Farooq’s impaired legs as a matter of concern. The SWD officials insist on a tricycle, but the accident has rendered him unfit to ride a tricycle, he claimed.
“Riding a tricycle is harder than the scooty. It is laborious, and when your wrist is joined with metal pins, it is putting your life at stake,” he said.
His tin-shed abode outside railway station Budgam serves as a sojourn for his acquaintances, friends and comrades. They come, smoke, confabulate and leave with glee faces. His humour is irresistible.
“I often do come here to talk and remind myself the blessings of my life. Though I have everything yet I fail to keep myself happy and looking at Farooq’s gleeful nature makes me envious”, said Aasif Amin. Due to the unavailability of work, Farooq spends most of his time doing household chores. Sometimes he goes to the nearby shop to fetch bread and milk for the tea, but in winter, he avoids such errands and sends his visitors to buy the same.
To pass time in the prolonged days of chillai kalan, Farooq surfs through Facebook and listens to Mohammad Rafi’s songs while doing the chores.