Features Saturday, April 18, 2015 - 05:30
A rare disease may have crippled her limbs, but 19-year-old Girija Srinivas is not one to give up.  Girija, who sufferes from congenital agenesis, can’t grow beyond her 2.5 feet height. Though she has a fair idea that she may never be able to stand on her feet, Girija is neither ashamed of acknowledging her condition, nor does she let it get in her way. The Bengaluru-based teenager exudes a fictitious charm which is difficult to miss. Her exuberance is what keeps her going, what gives her strength to fight against all odds. In the close to two hours spent with Girija at her home, there was not a single quiet moment. “Girija loves to talk and will instantly form a bond with you,” Nanda, her mother, says. At 12kgs, Girija is limited to her bed and can’t lift her head as that can fracture her bones. And yet, this has not been able to hamper her skills. A lover of art, she has made several paintings over the years. A multi-tasker, she also makes jewellery and though she tried her hand at embroidery, she wasn't able to pursue it as it hurt her fingers. Currently she has taken to quilling, which she learnt from watching art shows on television.  Most of her paintings are depictions of Ganesha. “The first painting I made was of Ganesha and since then I love to draw him,” she says. According to Nanda, art runs in the family. “My father and brother are also fond of painting. Girija got interested in making art while watching me do artwork,” she says. Girija lives with her father, mother and elder brother in the city. Her mother helps her conduct her day to day activities. “My joy comes from fulfilling her wishes,” says Nanda. Girija is quick to quip, “But her greater joy is in fighting with me.” Though Girija never got the opportunity to receive formal schooling, she can converse in five languages- Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and English- most of which she has learnt from watching television. What's more? She even turns out to be an ardent WWE fan, Girjia squeaks, “John Cena is my favourite.” But nothing can replace her penchant for watching films. A poster of actor Rajkumar in the room hints at her fondness for him. Nanda says, “The day Rajkumar got kidnapped, I found her crying in front of the television. Now she follows his son, Puneeth Rajkumar.” As Girija eagerly waits to watch Puneeth’s latest release “Rana Vikrama”, which is running in theatres, her mother says she’ll have to wait till it is aired on television. Though well-wishers told Girija's family to take her story to the media, Nanda was initially skeptical and guarded her daughter from public glare for almost two decades. But since last year, when she went to meet the Karnataka Chief Minister to seek financial help, the media has constantly expressed interest in their lives. Recently Barcroft TV released a video on Girija. The government provides a sum of Rs 1,200 to Girija’s family under the financial assistance scheme for the disabled. Sometimes Girija requires oxygen cylinders to assist in her breathing as her lungs are underdeveloped. During such times, the amount proves insufficient to bear the high medical expenses. However Girija Srinivas doesn't want to be known for her rare medical condition. She wants to be an artist in the future. With her efforts, and the support of her family and friends, despite all odds, there seems to be no stopping her from realising her dreams. (All photos taken by Benita Chacko)

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