Published: 10th March 2020
This 18-year-old from Kozhikode preaches positivity, keeping her disability at bay
Noor Jaleela was born without forearms and lower legs but that doesn't stop her from playing the violin, painting and dabbling in some craft-making too
We've seen a lot of people with disabilities do some pretty amazing things. And Noor Jaleela is no different. Born without forearms and lower legs, the 18-year-old uses her heart, soul and her four limbs to unleash her artistic and creative side for all to see. “I play the violin, paint, sing, do a bit of craft and also, participate in speech competitions. At present, I am a volunteer with the Institute of Palliative Medicine, Kozhikode.” When we first watched Noor, who is a resident of Mayyanad in Kozhikode, play the violin, we were beyond moved, to say the least. It wasn’t just what she played but how she played it. She holds the strings with her left arm pulls the bow with her right, while the violin is placed sideways on her lap. Noor is also a member of two bands where she sings, although she is untrained. Hobbies aside, Noor is an active volunteer at the Institute of Palliative Medicine where she spends time with patients, be it singing or teaching them some crafts.
Noor Jaleela is a singer as well
Noor cheerfully tells that she is able to explore her hidden talents with the support of her family. “My family never stopped me from doing what I wanted to do. Though I need someone to help me out with some work (like opening a tiffin box), I always try to do things on my own,” she says boldly. Defining herself as an avid violinist, Noor confesses that getting accustomed to the strings was not an easy journey. “I have been playing the violin since Class VII. My violin teacher gave me extra attention so that I could get the basics right. Touching the bow to the strings of the violin was painful initially, but I kept practising it keenly. I cannot recreate the way it is played by others and I might not get the right tune but still, I try to play it in the way I can,” says the first-year BA Economics student at St Joseph's College (Autonomous), Devagiri.
Talking about her artistic side, Noor informs us, “I won the first prize twice and a third prize in the annual national-level painting competition organised for ICSE schools. My painting has also been featured on the cover of the Kerala Government’s Relief Fund magazine this year.” Apart from painting, Noor also makes paper greeting cards which can be customised too. “I used to set up stalls for events at the Institute of Palliative Medicine. And so far, every piece has been sold. I also take up orders for these cards,” says Noor. When we ask her if someone helps her with the cutting, pasting and so on, Noor adds with a smile, “I hold the paper with both my knees and cut the paper using my arms. I use all my limbs to get my work done.”
Though she was very talented at a young age, getting admission in a reputed school even for kindergarten was not a piece of cake for this youngster. “I was denied admissions in a few schools. The reason they mentioned was that mingling with me might make fellow students uncomfortable because I am not the way they are. After a long struggle, a school finally gave me admission when they saw me as an aspiring student and not as a differently-abled kid,” says Noor, who completed her schooling at Auxilium Nava Jyoti School, Kunnamangalam.
Today, the Institute of Palliative Medicine is Noor’s second home and Dr Anwar Hussain, the Director of the institute, explains why, “In January 2019, she came to the institute for an event called ‘Curios’ where she was one of the special guests. From then on, she has been actively volunteering in conducting activities like painting and crafts, and even applies mehendi on patients hands, talks to cancer patients, supports deceased patients’ families and so on. She spreads smiles as she is very positive.”
When we ask about her future prospects, Noor informs us that she aspires to become a civil servant or work with the Archaeological Survey of India in the near future. "I like to read about history, kings, queens and also visit monuments. I sometimes wish to rewind time and place myself in the time of kings and queens,” she laughs. Talking about social acceptance of differently-abled people, she says, “People have started to become inclusive these days. There were days when people used to stare at me as if I was an alien. But now, people have learnt to accept us and recognise the talent we possess.”