By Nirooshini Madaven
WHEELCHAIR-bound A. Lingeswarry, fondly known as Linda Rao, has over the years fought barriers and challenges caused by her physical limitations and overcome them.
At two, her parents A. Applagonda and T. Paidithalammah realised that she was unable to walk. She was diagnosed with Nemaline Rod Myopathy. It is a disorder that primarily affects the skeletal muscles used for movement.
In severe cases, the muscles used for breathing are affected. This could become life-threatening.
Linda’s mother Paidithalammah said her daughter, now 21, was able to walk slowly until the age of six but she couldn’t walk after that.
Confined to her wheelchair, Linda is assisted by a breathing machine at all times.
Her parents were told by doctors that she wouldn’t live past the age of 16. However, the feisty young lady survived and celebrated her 21st birthday this year.
“I hope parents with special kids are not ashamed of having them in their lives. Instead try motivating and encouraging them at all times,” Paidithalammah told the New Straits Times.
Some people had advised Linda’s parents to send her to a home for the disabled while others asked her to quit studying and some called her ugly. She could not accept her condition until she was 20. Linda added that she had never posted her wheelchair-bound pictures online in the past.
Boosted by her new-found confidence, she now posts her pictures online with the hope of inspiring other disabled people. Pursuing an education saw Linda facing obstacles. She had applied and waited to be accepted into higher learning institutions for two years without success.
Linda is currently pursuing a Diploma in Management at the Open University Malaysia, Shah Alam and is accompanied by her mother to classes. She called on Malaysian schools and colleges to accept disabled students and improve the facilities to help their cause.
A positive development saw Linda taking part in an Indian bridal photo shoot recently. She collaborated with photographer P. Vinoth Raj and hair-stylist and make-up artist V. Vithya to raise awareness of her disorder and wheelchair-bound persons.
“Linda has inspired me so much. She is confident, brave, strong, and positive. She has made a huge impact on me and made me realise how to love life,” Vithya said.