Her story is of grit and determination. The tag of physical disability did not deter her from reaching her goals. She was often at the receiving end when the society suppressed and discriminated her for being a dwarf. However, nothing could hamper her spirit and the dream to achieve big.
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It is the life story of Lakshmipradha Srinivasan, a doctor who hails from Palakkad in Kerala and a resident of Bengaluru. She was a victim of Achondroplasia which has resulted in dwarfness. Today, at the age of 34, Lakshmipradha’s height is 3’9 ft, which is considered as an abnormal growth in medical terms.
Says Karthik Srinivasan, Pradha’s brother: “If I was a tall person, Pradha was really too short. She had a problem with her right leg as a child due to which she underwent a surgery. Though surgery enabled her to walk, Pradha suffered from brittle bones that prevented her physical growth.”
Their father N V Srinivasan struggled hard to get Pradha admitted into a good school. During Pradha’s adolescence, the lack of growth became evident and she drew unnecessary attention from the mates and the neighbourhood. However she coped well with all of it.
Having developed an interest in music and extra-curricular activities, Pradha was keen to participate in various competitions in the school. Despite the initial suppression from school teachers, she, backed by her mother Ganga Srinivasan, took part in the competitions.
“The first time I felt proud and jealous at the same time was when my sister was awarded the best all round performer trophy for the most number of individual awards in various categories in the field of performing arts. The same set of teachers who raised different expressions were all praise for her and that was the moment that we as a family often recollect and feel proud of even till date,” Karthik says while turning nostalgic.
Realising the dreams
Since her school days, Pradha aspired to become a doctor. Though she could not get a medical seat, she passed the common entrance examination and secured a seat in a dental college. The principal of the Government Dental College, Trivandrum, was reluctant to admit her as he thought she would not be able to perform clinical procedures because of her dwarfness. Much to the amusement of all, Pradha performed well in the college and even bagged the best fresher of the year award.
She even performed all practical procedures and treated several patients successfully during the final year and internship. She was recognised as an outstanding student. She achieved this amidst her illness as the signs of brittle bones had started to show up and her teeth started falling one by one.
However, her never give-up attitude and endurance helped her to stay hooked. The professors and lecturers who were defiant in the beginning about recognising her capabilities later realised that a human being is not judged by how tall he/she is but how tall one can think and elevate themselves.
“Following the norms for Pradha, nothing came easy, in this case, even the job. Pradha started applying to all dental hospitals, clinics, private nursing homes for a job. Everything would be fine until the interview process, but once the employers see her physically, doubt on her ability to treat patients and reject her giving her all kinds of reasons. The most acrimonious one was where the hospital did not want to take the risk of reducing the patient inflow, as they felt the patients would lose confidence when they see her and seek alternate hospitals,” explains Karthik.
A ray of hope came in the form of Dr Sam Joseph who referred her to Professor Gopikrishna at Meenakshi Ammal college of Medical sciences, for her tooth consultation and a possible lecturer’s job. Professor Gopikrishna not only recognised her potential and offered a lecturer’s job, but also started mentoring her both from career perspective as well as personal growth.
Not dwarf in thoughts and action
Pradha explored wider opportunities and got a job as a health consultant. She also got an MBA degree in Healthcare and Hospital Administration. Music being her passion, she has given a few carnatic music concerts and wishes to scale high in that field.
Having lived a life of her choice, Pradha says, “Today, I have achieved an important place in society, and have become economically and socially independent. I move in my life with confidence. I will achieve still greater heights in the years to come. I have faced insults and denials all through my life. Yet without getting cowed down by such acts, I had fought for my rights time and again.”
“Even though I am short in height, I have never allowed myself to be dwarfed in my thoughts and action. Today, I stand tall by my achievements”, says proud Pradha.