She overcame rare immune disorder to top her batchUpdated: Oct 29, 2019, 23:36 IST
“When I was diagnosed with a chronic condition leading to motor nerve paralysis and the doctor said I couldn’t move my hands, I didn’t know what to do,” said Maariyah Siddiquee, 25, a media professional who was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) two weeks before her final semester exams for her postgraduate degree at Jamia Millia Islamia in 2017.
Despite not being able to write her papers herself, Siddiquee managed to score the highest grade point that semester and is now the topper of her batch. On Wednesday, Siddiquee will be among the 183 female gold medalists who will be felicitated at the varsity’s 2019 convocation. Along with President Ram Nath Kovind, Union human resource development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal will be present at the event.
GBS is a rare disorder in which a person’s immune system attacks the peripheral nerves and can result in paralysis. It is a chronic illness with no known cure. “My doctors advised me to appear for my exams next year since even dictating answers to the scribe would require respiratory strength, which I didn’t have,” she said.
Siddiquee managed to find a scribe and appeared for nine papers for her degree in Convergent Journalism barely a week after she was discharged from the hospital. Her preparatory time included listening to her brother reading out her notes since she could barely hold the pages.
“I had to use a wheelchair to enter the campus and realised there are so few rampways in public spaces. It is taxing for a young aspiring journalist to have her life limited to a wheelchair just in a matter of few days,” she said, adding she had to let go of two job offers she had back then due to her medical condition.
The road to recovery was also tough for her. She moved back to Kolkata, her home town, soon after her course was over. With extensive therapy and medication, Siddiquee was able to gain some function back and can now move around with some help. “From not being able to comb my hair, go to the washroom, or even rotate my hand, I have now reached a point where I can perform basic tasks. But even today, I have bad days.”
In the two years since that April evening, Siddiquee has worked as a researcher, guest lecturer and a sub-editor at a major news organisation. “We all talk about making spaces inclusive for people different illnesses. But in one of my previous offices, my senior told me upfront that I could either recover or work. This was extremely disheartening.”
Ask her if she expected to score the highest marks and the response is prompt. “At that time, I just wanted to pass. Studying in Jamia, one of the best media institutes of the country, was a dream come true. Getting a gold medal there is a cherry on the cake,” she said.