24-year-old Asna's earliest memories of a hospital are scattered and unclear, but what she vividly remembers is the unbearable pain she felt when a crude bomb attack claimed her right leg.
In the year 2000, at the age of five, Asna became a victim of the political violence that has rocked Kannur, when she was caught in the middle of a bomb blast aimed at Congress workers, carried out by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers.
Nearly eighteen years since Asna was rushed to a hospital where she had to spend more than two months recovering, she is now a doctor. Having completed her MBBS from Kozhikode Medical College, Asna will join for house surgency in the first week of April.
Even as the RSS workers behind the attack were held guilty by a court years later, a young girl's life was now inextricably linked to the political violence in the state.
Speaking to TNM, Asna says that her memories of the blast are mostly based on what other people have shared with her over the years.
"I only remember immense pain. It was election time and our house is located on the roadside. My mother, brother and I were standing outside the house. A few Congress party workers came running to our house, while the attackers chased them. When the attackers threw the crude bomb at them, my mother, brother and I got caught in the middle of it. I only have a vague memory of the attack," Asna says.
While Asna's mother and brother sustained minor injuries, her right leg had to be amputated.
Picking up the pieces
The attack happened when Asna was studying in nursery school. She had to spend two months in hospital undergoing rigorous treatment. It was only after a few more months, she was able to get back on her feet.
"I was insistent that I wanted an artificial leg and so I got it early on. That gave me time to adjust to walking on an artificial limb. I joined Class 1 in a school near my house and my father used to take me to school every day," she says.
Asna was too young to process the shock of losing a limb or the gravity of the political attack that rocked her life. But she was clear that she would go back to school and pursue her education.
"My parents told me that I was initially agitated. The doctors were very encouraging; they kept telling me that I need to start school soon. Maybe, because of that, it was easier for me to move on. I was not ready to accept that I had lost a leg, so I was insistent on getting an artificial leg. I soon coped with it, although the process of changing the prosthetic leg often was painful," Asna says.
Her father, Nanu, had to sell his tea shop to someone else and spend most of his time taking care of his daughter, who was adamant that a tragedy wouldn't defeat her. With three members hospitalised following the attack, it was the support from friends and kin that helped the family through the trying times.
After completing her schooling, she joined Kozhikode Medical College in 2013.
It was probably the sheer amount of time that she spent in a hospital as a child that influenced her to become a doctor, smiles Asna.
"When I was in the hospital, so many doctors helped me overcome the difficulty. Seeing that, I felt that I should also become like them, capable enough of taking care of people like me," she notes.
While Asna and her family are not members of any political party, they were unwillingly dragged into the politics of the violence in Kannur.
They live in an area where the Congress party is quite popular and have many supporters. However, after the attack, the family had to consciously make an effort to avoid being tagged as "party people," she points out.
"I am not interested in politics; I don't belong to any party either. Our case was taken up by the Congress and they have helped us a lot after the attack. But again, leaders from many parties have extended their help to us. And it was not as party members that they helped us, but in their individual capacity. I like to see it that way," she explains.
She says that her family, especially her father, was particular that they would not let any political party hijack their lives for political gains.
On academic front, Asna hopes to complete her house surgency and pursue her PG later.