Since 2000, when her right leg was torn off in a crude bomb attack at the age of five, Asna K has been a grim symbol of the political violence in Kerala’s Kannur district. Last week, when the 23-year-old completed her MBBS studies from Government Medical College, Kozhikode, she also became an icon of survival and determination.
A native of Poovathur in Kannur, Asna was standing outside her house on September 27, 2000, a day for local body elections, when an explosive hurled allegedly by RSS supporters towards Congress workers went off nearby, severely injuring her. Her mother Santhi and younger brother Anand, who were standing beside her, also sustained injuries.
After the attack, Asna’s right leg had to be amputated from the knee. After 86 days in the hospital, she returned home with a prosthetic leg and her inspiring journey to become a doctor began. After completing Class XII in 2013, she joined a course in medicine under the quota for the disabled persons.
Asna is now set to begin a year-long house surgency, after which she will get her degree. “It is really a dream come true for me. During the prolonged treatment, I thought about becoming a doctor, who can serve poor people. I want to join the government service. I haven’t yet decided on specialisation. Surgery is on my mind, but that would demand standing on prosthetic leg for hours,’’ said Asna.
Over the years, Asna has used at least 15 artificial legs. “In the initial years, the prosthesis had to be changed within three or four months to catch up with my growth. The present one was fixed two years back,’’ she says.
She said that after fixing a new prosthesis, the stump of the leg bleeds inside it. “Sometimes, it develops into an ulcer. It takes time for the amputated part to get familiar with the prosthesis,’’ she said.
The bleeding would bring back haunting memories of the attack, said Asna, adding that she has tried to forget that incident. “We want to forget it and move ahead,’’ she said.
Asna said her father K Nanu has always been her source of support. Nanu, who ran a tea stall at their village at the time of the blast, shut it down because he had to carry his daughter to and from school. When she was studying in Class X at a school far from her home, Nanu rented a house near the school.
“A lot of people helped me. The then Congress government sanctioned a lift at the medical college when my pain in climbing the stairs came to its attention. The present prosthesis, costing
Rs 2 lakh, was sponsored by an NRI. I thank everyone, ‘’ said Asna. Her mother Santhi is a housewife and brother Anand is pursuing a course in Nursing.
A trial court convicted 13 RSS-BJP workers for their alleged involvement in the blast. However, the high court stayed the conviction after the accused moved an appeal. One of the accused, A Ashokan, later joined the CPM and is now the president of Koothuparamba block panchayat. “The assailants never came to me to tender an apology. Eighteen years have passed. I don’t recall their faces,’’ said Asna.