Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pen in toes, ‘Christy’ in class

Sobha Majumdar’s story is no less touching than Christy Brown’s. The 32-year-old, who suffers from a rare congenital disease and is compelled to write with her toes, has joined a school here as a primary teacher.

The young woman’s determination and tenacity was rewarded for the first time in 2003 when at Sisir Mancha in Calcutta then Bengal governor Viren J. Shah projected her as a role model for physically challenged students. She was being felicitated after passing her Higher Secondary examinations.

Christy Brown, an Irish man born with cerebral palsy in a poor working class family, could control only his left foot but he became a writer and an artist. The story of his life was filmed in My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown in 1989 with Daniel Day-Lewis starring as Brown. The Academy Award- winning film was based on Brown’s autobiography, My Left Foot.

Sobha suffers from phocomelia that has deformed her arms. Phoco in Greek means seal and melia means limbs, indicating limbs like a seal’s flipper. She lives with her parents at Rangapukur village in Barua gram panchayat, 5km from Raiganj town. Her father Molin Majumder is a carpenter.

Yesterday, Majumder had taken leave from the shop where he works, to accompany his daughter to her Rangapukur primary school, barely 200 metres from her home. on her day of joining there as a teacher. Sobha was a student of this very school. The villagers had crowded the school premises when she arrived.

After formal introduction with the headmistress and colleagues she signed the attendance registrar by holding the pen in between the toes of her right foot and went straight to the classroom.

Curious students and teachers closely watched as she tried to write on black board hung from the wall. But when she found it uncomfortable, her colleagues brought another black board that could be placed on the floor of the classroom.

“I was born with crippled hands. My mother had encouraged me to practise writing with my toes. In the initial stage it gave me severe pain to write with a pencil held between the toes. My mother used to give me hot compresses to neutralise the pain,” Sobha said.

After primary education she had studied at Kashibati High School. She obtained first division in her Madhyamik examination. In 2002 she passed Higher Secondary examination in second division. She studied at Surendranath College in Raiganj with honours in history and did her post graduation in private from North Bengal University in 2010.

Sobha said she used to get free tuition and books in the schools and the college where she had studied. But her father had to work overtime to run their family.

“I shall not allow my old and feeble father to work any further after I get my salary next month,” Sobha said.

The Chairman of the District Primary School Council Utpal Dutta said they would showcase Shobha as a role model, as one who could surpass all difficulties with sheer mental strength and perseverance. “I believe her example will help us check dropouts at primary school level,” Dutta said.

No comments:

Post a Comment