Everyone was taken in for a surprise when A C Seena joined the Ramavarmapuram GVHSS School in Thrissur as its high school head mistress. Everyone learnt that the teacher had great difficulty in walking and used to fall down quite often, but they never expected this.
The rear car seats were folded and converted into a bed using a wooden plank and cushions. Seena was lying in the makeshift bed with her leg in a cast.
"Nothing to worry. It is just a fractured knee," a cheerful Seena informs the onlookers. It seems that Seena was telling herself that she had overcome stiffer challenges in life. Seena came to the school fighting all odds as she knew that her presence at the school was imperative for the timely disbursement of salary and distribution of text books. Thus Seena managed the affairs of the school from this makeshift bed in her car for 60 days.
The decision to use an electric wheelchair was taken after Seena recovered from the latest fall, which was caused by a general weakness in her muscles since childhood.
"My mother could move around in an electric wheelchair without anyone's help like in the film 'Bangalore Days,'" says son Sebastian.
One of the protagonists of the popular film 'Bangalore Days,' is physically challenged and uses an electric wheelchair for free movement.
50 years of strong will power
Seena is the youngest daughter of A A Chakunni and Lilly hailing from Aloor in Thrissur district. Since the day Seena started walking as a todler, she used to fall down quite regularly because of a rare disease affecting her muscles. Doctors told Seena's parents that her muscles would weaken with time, and periodically she would altogether lose the ability to walk. But Seena's parents gave her all the encouragement and had her sent to school. She was good at studies and everything was hale and hearty until Seena had a bad fall while studying in class 10. While returning home after classes in heavy downpour, Seena tripped and fell, and couldn't get up. Seena's life became that of caution after that incident, and she had to be extra careful while sitting, standing, and even walking. But she decided to continue her studies. It was a bolt from the blue for Seena as her mother passed away while she was preparing for her class 10 examinations.
Seena's father, who supported her in every step, also died while she was in college doing undergraduation. Seena stood firm and faced the challenges head on when the crippling disease started to rear its ugly head with vengeance. Now, she had only one aim – to become a high school teacher, and that's the promise Seena gave her father on his deathbed.
Friends – pillars of strength
Friends were always a source of strength for Seena while she was a BSc Math student at Little Flower College in Guruvayur and BEd student at the Kannur University Centre. They never sympathized with Seena but carried her along with them as one among them, even during excursion trips. Seena's friends instilled in her the confidence to face life with courage.
A job, a companion too
The ailment started to rear its ugly head time and again as Seena started her career as a teacher, but she was determined to come up trumps in life. Meanwhile, Jacob, brother of Seena's friend Thressiamma, proposed to marry her. Seena tried hard to dissuade Jacob from marrying her by saying that her physical condition would only deteriorate as time goes by. But Jacob stood his ground and said, "Still, I like you a lot." That's the moment when Seena felt that she was indeed lucky. Jacob quit his job as an AC mechanic to be with his wife. Seena's crippling disease did not stand in the way of the couple's travel plans as they visited many places such as Ahmedabad, Delhi, and Agra.
Always with students
Seena, who has worked in many schools in her 18-year-long pedagogic career and is the students' favourite math teacher, has firmly resolved not to take a day off from work due to the disease. Students throng Seena's house for last minute advice as board exams approach, and they would stand around her knowing that their teacher can trip and fall down. Seena is proud of her students and they are her strength.
Seena, who goes to church and school in wheelchair, has lot of hope and love for life. When asked about the secret of her happiness, she says, "There will be challenges in life. The real winners are those who surge ahead with confidence and realize their dreams instead of running away from challenges."