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Fighting Bullying with Brilliance: Resilience of a Kashmiri Dwarf

Fighting Bullying with Brilliance: Resilience of a Kashmiri Dwarf

Adil Hussain
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After teachers and students ganged up against him, the diminutive boy thought of quitting studies and ending his life. But what he eventually did made the boy an inspiration for all and sundry. On World Dwarfism Awareness Day, Mountain Ink presents an untold story of injustice, inequality and discrimination towards a Kashmiri petite person.


When Mudasir was first bullied at school for his ‘short stature’, the 24-year-old didn’t mind it, until the routine giggles and jeers became a tormenting noise for him.

During those heartburning moments, he would sit alone, wearing a glum face on the sun-washed corner of his campus, lifting his teary-eyes towards heaven, as if in complain.

Adil Hussain for MI

“I grew up with normal children in the society,” recalls Mudasir Shaban, who belongs to Safapora village of district Bandipora, but currently lives with his uncle in Soura, Srinagar.

“My childhood was not different from others. But while growing up, I realized that we dwarves are different from others. But what many forget is that we also are humans with emotions, sentiments and feelings. We too get angry like others but we’re helpless to express ourselves in the society.”

During his school days, Mudasir kept ignoring bullies, until their tribe grew and became a terrifying troupe for him.

Adil Hussain for MI

Back home then, his family would regularly take him to a hospital for specialized treatment after he stopped growing beyond 4.2 feet.

“I remember,” he says, “I was under medical treatment for my disability since I was a kid. There’s not a single tablet, injection or test that I’ve missed during the treatment for almost 10 years. But the worst time came when a doctor told me that there’s no improvement in your growth and treatment must be stopped. Instantly, the doctor wrote my disability certificate and handed over to my family. The treatment was all fake and merely a professional formality. I was certified for life as a disabled person with dwarfism.”

Attending school with a disability was an arduous walk for him, as he had to face inhuman treatment on streets and inside passenger buses.

Adil Hussain for MI

In the face of unrelenting bullying, his family decided to admit him in a boarding school—away from his hometown. After preparing hard for an entrance exam, Mudasir was confident of securing his slot.

But six months later, when results came out, he was declared unqualified. Besides low marks, the school authorities made his ‘physical appearance, height and inability to compete with normal children’ as grounds for his exam failure.

“What hurt my family most was the callous remark of the school officials: ‘We make soldiers here and they come from normal people and not people like him and that’s why the school has its name as Sainik School’,” he recounts the ‘resounding’ remark.

Mudasir took that comment on his heart and decided to quit studies. But his parents convinced him to continue his classroom routine by enrolling him in his village government school.

Adil Hussain for MI

To everyone’s surprise, he topped for consecutive three years and went on to qualify Class 8 as a first position-holder.

But despite finishing second to none, he faced teases and taunts from teachers and students alike.

“I was so helpless that I couldn’t even encounter anyone verbally,” Mudasir recalls. Even as his elder brother fought pitched battles with teachers and students on his behalf, it never helped.

Bullying that he faced further alienated him from the society. With the result, he once again decided to abandon his studies.

Adil Hussain for MI

For the next two months, he almost reached on the brink of ending his life.

“It was one of the difficult times in my life,” he says. “I always wished to die.”

During that anguished period, his uncle came to his rescue and took him to his home in Soura, where he admitted him in a local school.

“At a new place, I experienced new things,” he recalls. “The life standard and the environment were entirely different.”

For a change, he recalls, teasing and bullying stopped bothering him. He peacefully passed his Class 9, without the thought of quitting studies ever crossing his mind again.

At his new home, he bumped into a boy who became his companion and chaperone throughout his student life. That Soura boy would shield him during his bazaar and school outings.

Adil Hussain for MI

By the dint of academic performance, Mudasir would later ensure a trouble-free college life for himself. He earned many admirers and friends in the new campus. Among them was a girl.

“We shared a good emotional bond,” he says. “She was my senior at the college and willing to marry me despite my disability.”

Mudasir had asked her to reconsider the decision before taking any serious step. She spoke to her parents about him. They flatly refused her decision of marrying to a dwarf.

“That was the unluckiest day in my college life as I was always in search of a person who can be part of my life until death,” he says. “I lost that promising person of my life then and there only.”

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And soon, a volley of existential questions would haunt him. He kept wondering why society can’t accept him the way he is.

Adil Hussain for MI

During that painful period in his life, he had started taking refuge in mosques and shrines.

“The most peaceful of all the places for me has been the historical Jamia Masjid of Srinagar, where I sit calmly without facing any threat to my existence,” he says. “People treat and talk with me very friendly there.”

At the same time, Mudasir started helping and caring for others in order to channelize his burdened mind. He, however, never let his physical disability to eclipse his mental strength. He ended up graduating in BBA, with 65 per cent pass marks.

Adil Hussain for MI

After college, he pursued an MBA in Financial Management through disabled reservation category from the University of Kashmir. The staff and the students in the varsity were so friendly that he never felt he was different from others.

“I feel they only judged me on my academic performance rather than on my dwarfism,” he says. “And that’s why the happiest corner in my life lies in the premises of the University of Kashmir.”

Adil Hussain for MI

But the life outside the gates of the campus never made it easy for him. He kept struggling at bank counters, shops or at other public places. He had to rely on peoples’ help to get things done. “There’s absolutely no facility or arrangements for people like me in Kashmir,” he laments

After university, he wasn’t deemed fit for some jobs despite meeting all the qualification criteria. During this struggling period in his life, he decided to serve disabled people at Jammu and Kashmir Handicapped Association (JKHA).

Adil Hussain for MI

Sited in Srinagar’s Nowpora locality, JKHA is headed by a physically-disabled person, Abdul Rasheed Bhat. The association fights for the rights of at least 35,000 members with different disabilities. Mudasir not only feels home there, but also holds a managerial post in JKHA.

Adil Hussain for MI

“Over the years I’ve realized that the worst thing about being a dwarf is that there’s nothing we can do about it,” he says.

Adil Hussain for MI

“Sick people can be cured by medical treatment and obese people can follow diet and exercise to lose weight. But what can we do? And that’s why perhaps disabled people like me die every day due to the absurd mentality of some nasty people in society.”


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