On Toes

Armless by birth, Irshad Ahmad Ganie uses his toes to compensate for his handicap, reports Hilal Shah

Irshad Ahmad Ganai (KL Image by Hilal Shah)

Irshad Ahmad Ganie, 23, a resident of village Sever of Lolab in border Kupwara district is armless by birth. But he uses his toe to write, holding a pen between the big toe and index toe of the right foot.

“When I gave birth to him I was not informed for the following two days,” says the mother Haneefa Begum “For many days I was crying. Relatives then consoled me that he is fine. I was worried about what will happen to him.”

Ganie’s family never thought he could attend school.

“When I was six years old, my elder brother taught me to write basic letters. Then I started writing on a plain stone for months”, says Ganie. “One day a teacher namely Atiqullah Shah passed through our village and saw me. He developed empathy towards me and later assisted me to attend school. He would come to my home daily and would take me to school along with him.”

Ganie has studied up to the twelfth standard. Due to his family’s financial difficulties, he was unable to take admission for further studies.

“In 2014 when I appeared in the twelfth class examination, I was not permitted to take any helper along with me. This was another reason I could not continue my studies,” Ganie says. “I got admission in a professional course at an outside college but keeping my health condition in view my parents did not let me go.”

Learning Computers

Ganie later opted for a computer course which was very challenging for him. He took the admission for a one-year diploma in computers sciences at a computer institute located at main market Kupwara.

“Sabahat madam used to be there then. I am grateful to her,” Ganie says. “She helped me learn computers.”

Until the first Covid19 lockdown, Ganie ran a mobile repairing shop at Sogam Lolab but he didn’t earn much.

“I have five family members to feed,” Ganie said “My father is unhealthy. He is unable to work, which adds more to my burden. I am worried about what will happen to me in future.”

Despite typing with his toe, Ganie has a typing speed of ten words per minute. He is also a self-taught mobile mechanic.

“Post Covid19 lockdown I started working as a mobile repairer at Khanyar in Srinagar city,” Ganie said “I don’t find it a challenging task to work with my toe, I can do the same work with a toe that I could have done with my hands.”

Ganie has knocked on every official’s door for help but nobody has listened to him, he says.

No Help

“There has been no support despite my regular requests to Governor and district administration,” Ganie says. “I believe if I can get some assistance from the authorities I can advance my skills”.

Ganie asserted that he would have not opted for a private job if his financial position at his home had been good.

“I was forced to do this work in order to support my family,” he says. “I need almost Rs 3 to 4 thousand per month to spend on my health. I arrange this amount on my own.”

Ganie is desperate for a Government job. His two elder brothers are living separately from the parents.

“So many media persons have visited our home for stories. But this has not helped us. We appealed to the administration to pay support to him but all went idle” says mother Haneefa. “We have appealed to the administration for help but to no avail”.

She adds that she feels insecure about Ganie when he leaves for work.

“There is no one to take care of him after us. His two sisters change his clothes and they also bathe him.  But both of them will soon be married,” Haneefa says. “His two elder brothers are already living separately. He has to do all household tasks. If he gets a job, I will die easy.”

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