RAWALPINDI, July 20: Imranullah, 28, recalls the tragic day of his life when he was struck by the crippling polio virus about 23 years back, and wishes to have been born in the age when polio vaccines are administered to children at their doorsteps.
Blessed with a tall stature, shining hair, fair face and bright eyes, Imran cannot walk normally as his right leg is paralysed and is much thinner than the left leg due to the polio attack.
“The thing that makes me sad is that my parents and even doctors could not diagnose when the virus struck me. Perhaps polio was not so well known disease at that time. I can recall the day when my parents rushed me to a hospital in Peshawar and came back with some tablets and syrup advised by the doctors,” says Imranullah, who works as an OG-III officer in the National Bank of Pakistan’s Saddar branch in Rawalpindi.
With polio immunisation campaign concluded on Thursday, Imran says his parents would have taken him to the health workers for oral intake of the anti-virus vaccine, regretting that his childhood days were different and there was no awareness of the disease as it is today.
The polio virus has not only left Imran disabled but has also affected him psychologically and he is continuously trying to cover his disability from colleagues and onlookers. “I don’t want to wear trousers as it make my thigh and hip look smaller than my normal leg; therefore, I prefer to put on shalwar qameez that conceals my disability,” he remarked.
Born in a Pashtun society in Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where disability is considered as a weakness and sometimes an abuse, Imran says his favourite sports was cricket but he always played at home with brothers and sisters as no team in the village would enlist him.
“I was a good batsman but not a good bowler and fielder as I could not run fast. In the village, you are required to be a perfect man. So each team would hesitate about my inclusion. I was very upset and then my parents told me to play on the premises of my home,” the young Imran told this reporter while performing his duty at the cash counter of the bank on Friday.
In the workplace, there is no relief for the polio-affected official as he works with full energy like his normal colleagues though prolonged sitting in the chair makes more trouble for Imran. At times, he suffers from ‘light-headedness’ due to rush of customers and shortage of staff.
General Manager Human Resource NBP Regional Office Iftikhar Mian, when contacted, acknowledged that shortage of staff was making problem. However, he added that Imranullah had been advised to leave his seat for a while during working hours for relaxation.
Dr Tahir Ghaffar Khattak, a medical specialist, said polio-affected people could not sit in the chair continuously as their weak muscles caused swelling due to slow blood circulation and the immediate remedy was to get up and stroll for a while.