“Disability is the state of a mind” – a quote we have all heard or read on a number of occasions. It is true when they say, some people turn 85 when they are 22 years old, while some people remain 22 years old at the age of 85. It is all how you treat the hurdles in your life.
Your mindset, thinking and approach to life and its problems are all up to you and Amna Raheel, a young, ambitious girl with a disability called Muscular Dystrophy cannot define this any better.
Through thick and thin, through good or worse and through success or downfall, we all hope that God not just blesses us with His blessings, but also with people who can be there for us when the world starts falling apart and we stop being strong.
Given Amna’s condition, she defines how important it is to stay strong for YOURSELF and how her family and her very close friend was always there for her.
Amna has a message she wants to share with readers through her story. While reading this story, keep in mind all the struggles you face and thank Him for His blessings on you:
“Worried looks. Pitiful Glances. Blatant Stares. Curious Expressions…I have pretty much experienced it all. I have to admit, it really hasn’t been easy! It’s not the disease itself that wore me down, but more the baggage that came with. Honestly, I really don’t have a tragic story other than the fact that I was born with a disease called Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that is as common as one in a million.
The Struggle of Young Child, Wishing To Be Treated Fairly
I remember being bullied in school by a bunch of kids because I couldn’t play football with them during P.E class. At the age of seven, I didn’t know how to face them, because I could not even face myself. My childhood years were spent being vulnerable and confused, simply because I couldn’t figure out how and why I was different from the other kids.
My childhood years were spent being confused, but as life moved on and I grew up, I could barely even catch up, when this confusion turned into resentment and self-pity. Now when I look back, I feel like one of the lucky ones.
These difficulties and hardships changed me for the better. One day, at the lowest point in my life, I made the best decision of my life. I decided to be my own miracle. My own hero. I decided I would save myself. I refused to be labeled as a ‘bechari’, because honestly, I’m not disabled, I’m differently abled.
I was about two years old, when I was labeled as a ‘different’ and ‘special’ baby. When my parents found out, like any parent would do, they stretched out all limits, only to find me some help. But nothing did it. My family members were my pillars of strength.
Without their support I don’t think I’d be where I am today. My father. My sisters. My mother. Yes, I purposely chose to mention her in the end, because there is a story here in itself. My family’s constant and unconditional love and support is what pulled me together. My family is always there for me, whether it means waking them up even in the middle of the night. They support me unconditionally and have given me the freedom to make my own decisions and have a voice for myself.
I give the credits of all my accomplishments to them. If there is one thing I could say to them that would be that no matter how flawed I feel when I look at myself through their eyes I feel perfect. It is what kept me going.
It is what made me realize I am Amna Raheel. A person. An individual. A human who has the right to live in this world, just as much as the rest of the nine billion people.
Like every other mother, my mother was concerned and devastated by my reality. Although she never stopped supporting me and boosted my confidence, at the same time, she was scared too. Initially, she would take me to weddings and social gatherings, keeping me right beside her because she thought I would never have a social life or I won’t have the confidence to go out in the world as an individual, but I proved her wrong. She was figuring out how to take care of me while I was figuring out how to take care of myself.
Today, I’m twenty-five years old and I’ve completed my BS commerce degree from IoBM. I’m highly ambitious and I don’t see myself as different from anyone else. I’m extremely social and think I have a pretty normal life, just like any other person my age.
I must admit, it definitely hasn’t been easy, particularly the challenges that stem from the lack of infrastructure and other facilities that restrict accessibility. But if there’s something I have learnt through all the obstacles, is the importance of hard work and endurance.
I believe that nothing is impossible- you just need to figure out a way to do it. My wheelchair may have caged my body, but my mind is still free. I still think strongly, feel deeply and live fearlessly.
Honestly, I believe Allah has been really kind to me. He blessed me with the most supportive parents, siblings and friends. Without their support I don’t think I’d be where I am today.
In 2013, it felt as though life was testing me beyond my limits. I fell sick to pneumonia which was followed by suffering from major panic and anxiety attacks. I was in severe depression due to the panic attacks with no hope of getting better. I didn’t know what was happening to me and I was constantly surrounded by fear of the unknown. Little did I know, Allah provides us with a solution for every test He puts us through. My solution was right round the corner, in the form of Osama Ashaqeen, a friend I thought I would never have. Even though I was my own hero, I needed a hero to save me from myself and help me.
A Friend We All Deserve
I know Osama from the first year of university in 2010, but never liked him enough to become good friends with him. I always thought he was arrogant and too full of himself since he was considered to be one of the best-looking guys in my university (and that he is, without a doubt) But I had no idea that he would very soon become one of the most important people in my life.
Osama once said to me; “Amna, for the good times you can have the world but in your bad times I’ll always be there” and he’s proven that till date. He’s not just my best friend but my guardian angel. He loved me when I couldn’t love myself. He made sure I ate properly, slept and took care of myself. In university we had this tradition of going to the tuck shop every day after class from where he would get me cocomo and a bottle of water. Even though it was just a packet of cocomo and bottle of water, it made me feel like someone was taking care of the little things I needed.
He came in my life when I had stopped believing in myself. He believed in me and made me believe in myself again. It helped me build up my self confidence that was shattered. Not many people do that these days especially when everyone is so busy with their lives. How did I know that he’s my guardian angel? That’s one of my favorite memories. I had stopped going to university and had made up my mind to drop out but my mom and sister forced me every day. I remember I came out of my class one day to meet my friends. I had tears in my eyes. He was standing there too along with my friends.
I looked at him and I just knew that he’s going to be the one to fix me. It was like Allah was sending me help from above and as soon I sat in the car to go home I got a message from him saying: ‘I don’t think you’re okay. You can talk to me you know.’
Since that day there was no going back. He would find ways to make me laugh everyday. He would stay up with me on the phone the entire night because I’d be too scared to sleep. He would wipe away my tears when I got tired and wanted to give up. He would keep a check on me and take care of me. While everyone else would tell me that ‘Ab theek hojao, bohat time hogaya’, he would tell me, ‘You’re going to be fine. Bad times don’t last. Just be patient.’ He made me leave the house when I hadn’t for three months because he made me feel safe and protected.
I would say the bond of our friendship is unbreakable. Like every other friendship we have also faced many ups and downs together. In spite of being on the wheelchair, we have a pretty normal friendship. He never treats me differently. We fight a lot, argue almost all the time. We literally have gone up to forty days without speaking to each other but at the end of the day we always make things work out, okay, mostly he does but I can’t imagine life without him.
Trust me; I’m not an easy person to be friends with. I’m extremely sensitive and demanding. I want everything to be my way but Osama deals with it all, my tantrums, my drama and my mood swings. If a third person would hang out with us they’d probably think we hate each other and if locked up in a room for twenty four hours we might end up killing one another. But for us, fighting is just a way of expressing our love and concern for each other. He’s constantly bugging me and I’m constantly telling him how arrogant and mean he is but trust me it’s the most beautiful friendship I’ve seen in the world.
I feel like the luckiest person to become best friends with Osama because only he can do what he does. If I had to give him the title of a superhero it would be Superman because he saved me when I thought I couldn’t even save myself and will continue to do it for as long as we live.
When I reflect upon the presence of someone like Osama in my life, I am grateful beyond belief. In a false and superficial world, it’s increasingly rare to come across people who care so deeply and so selflessly about you. I must have done something right to deserve such supportive and loving friends.
Life is all about making the most of what we have. It’s not always easy, but if we learn to accept the hand we’re given, we begin to lead inspirational lives. I’m just an ordinary girl and this is the story of my journey and my friendship, raw and honest. If it can inspire even ONE person, I’ll consider sharing this story worthwhile.”
Amna has a dream to make a school for children who have physical disabilities. In the middle of our problems, we forget about people who have bigger problems than us. It takes courage to fit in someone else’s shoes in order to understand what thy go through.
For Amna, one might not be able to understand fully what she goes through, but anyone reading this can salute her courage, potential and will towards her life and goals.
Also Amna and Osama, you guys are LITERALLY goals. BFF for life!