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Last Updated Monday May 21 2018 12:47 PM IST

Trapped in wheelchair, but dreams soar high for this writer-cum-activist

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Shabna Ponnad

Malappuram: Shabna Ponnad had never thought of her as a potential writer until her mother told her that she should write something. Laila could not bear the sight of her daughter confined to a wheelchair within the four walls of their house.

Shabna, the voracious reader, decided to give it a shot. She can testify for a mother’s instinct. The girl paralyzed below the waist is a noted writer now.

Laila and Kunjootti had determined not to limit their daughter’s universe to their small house at Edavannappara soon after their little girl was left paralyzed by a fever. The child was not even two years old when she was bedridden.

Her parents sent her to a normal school. She went to the CH Muhammed Koya Memorial School at Vazhakkad until Class VII. The teachers and friends offered their full support to the girl.

Shabna’s friends made sure that she could participate in whatever games they planned. She never thought she was isolated.

She later joined the Government High School at Omanoor but it was difficult for her to reach the school on a small hillock. So, she shifted to the Government School at Kinassery, near her mother’s house.

She passed the SSLC examination with flying colors but she could not join a higher class due to her physical challenges. Shabna could not let go of the books though. She started reading whatever came her way. She immersed herself in the works of Vaikom Muhammed Basheer, M.T. Vasudevan Nair and M. Mukundan.

She joined the Calicut University’s BA degree course through correspondence.

Blissful letters

Shabna published her first short story, Ennekkumulloru Orma, in the Malayala Manorama weekly. When she published her first collection of short stories in 2007, she gave the book the same name.

She kept writing. An anthology titled Aa Ravu Pularathirunnenkil was published in 2011 and a collection of poems titled Kalathinte Kalocha was published in 2013. Her latest novel, Lankippoovukalude Thazhvaram, is an inspiring work.

She has also directed a short movie. She wrote and directed Thalirnambukal, a reminiscence of the lost greenery around her. The late scriptwriter T.A. Razak was her inspiration.

Inspiring life

Shabha is a bit of an activist too. She started Shabna’s Charitable and Education Society to encourage people who have been left paralyzed like her. The society has 110 members from five districts in Kerala. Most of them dared to venture out of their homes after meeting Shabna.

Shabna’s father has gifted her a small plot of land near her house to start a cultural center. The foundation of the center, ‘Santhwana Bhavanam,' was laid by former chief minister Oommen Chandy. The place offers vocational training for distressed people.

Shabna is a motivational speaker too. Her next plan is to build a home for the pavement dwellers.

Shabna’s little sister Marwa and the entire Ponnad village are behind her endeavors. She also finds enough supporters and sponsors to help her out.

The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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