Dubai: She gets curious glances as she drives on Dubai roads. Some try to peep inside her car, others ask her awkward questions. But Neena Nizar, 34, has an indomitable spirit and is least offended by such reactions. The mother of two who overcame the challenge posed by her restricted mobility and acquired a UAE drivers licence, says driving is “one of the best things that happened to me in my life”. The Indian school teacher now proudly drives a brand new customised silver grey Kia Carens.
Neena has undergone nearly three dozen surgeries due to a rare bone condition called Jansen’s Metaphysal Chondroplasia, a rare inherited disorder characterised by short stature with abnormally short arms and legs (short-limbed dwarfism) and bowed legs. She is one of the fewer than 30 people worldwide who have this bone condition. She faced numerous challenges right from childhood. She underwent several surgeries and was unable to walk for almost 10 years. However, not only did she keep surmounting the challenges, she now lives a life that is an inspiration in itself.
“After all these years of endlessly waiting for taxis and public transport, I feel very independent. I feel like a teenager,” she says. The vehicle, which is made to suit her situation, has controls in hand facilitating easy use.
Recalling the days when she did not have a licence, she says: “It used to be a lot of inconvenience. Sometimes I had to walk or wait to get public transport. It was tough. At times I had to wait long hours for a taxi. I am really happy now that all of that is over.”
Narrating the interesting responses her driving attracts, she says: “As a new driver I lose my way very often. On one such day, when I stopped to ask for directions, the person could not stop looking at my legs and the car and he finally asked me how I managed to drive. I was quite amused and explained it to him.” She says she feels humbled on being told that people find her inspiring. “Even the driving school where I took lessons sometimes gives my example to students who give up.”
Neena says she has been touched by the support she has got from family, friends, colleagues and her students. “I feel people are genuinely happy for me and it is touching.”
And as her two kids face the same bone condition, she feels that seeing her driving would positively contribute to their attitude. “They can see that they have options and that life is not limited. I am sure with rapid advancements in science, my children will have a much better life.”