Sabrin Saba may speak only a few words, but she lets her handiwork do the talking. Arts and craft come easily to this 24-year-old from Chhattisgarh – she finds joy in decorating palms with mehendi, bringing clothes to life with embroidery, cooking delicacies, and dolling up her sisters with makeup. “Whenever we go out for occasions, Sabrin makes us all look beautiful,” her mother, Saida Bano (46), tells us.
Sabrin was born to Saifuddin (55), an electrician who does motor-winding work, and Saida Bano in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh. She is the second among four siblings: her brother Faiz Ahmed (27) and sisters Saman Saba (23) and Mantasha Saba (20). At two years old, when Sabrin didn’t babble like children her age usually did, her parents grew concerned. After a seizure at the age of three, she was admitted to a hospital, where a BERA hearing test confirmed what the family feared – Sabrin had a congenital hearing loss.
“The initial years were very tough because Sabrin and I didn’t get much support from my in-laws”, says Saida. “Perhaps, because they were not aware about the disability and what it means,” Faiz adds. Today, they share a joint household with Saifuddin’s siblings and their families. “Now, everyone helps us,” Saida continues happily.
Sabrin found good friends in her classmates at the Justice Tankha Memorial School for Special Children, where she studied until 10th standard. She chats with her friends in Sign Language. Her family knows basic Sign and uses visual aids such as photos on the mobile to communicate with her.
At 15 years, Sabrin had an unending bout of coughing. Blood tests detected tuberculosis, but also revealed her underlying anaemia – a condition that made her right arm weak, although her left arm more than makes up for it.
Sabrin is now honing her love for stitching with a Diploma Course in Sewing at the Tifra Government Higher Secondary School for the Blind and Deaf, during the break year between her Grade 10 and 12 exams. “It’s been only a month since she began classes,” Saida tells us, “and already she keeps asking us for old clothes to make them into cloth bags.”
Every so often, she becomes sad after comparing herself to her sisters, says Saida. She wishes that she could be like them – a well-educated working woman. “I want to study, I want to work. I want to become a teacher, someday,” she conveys hopefully. Both Saman and Mantasha have done B.Sc (Biotechnology). Saman, who is now in the first year of her B.Ed course, wants to become a Chemistry teacher in school or college. Mantasha aims to pursue her subject further, doing her post-graduation and Ph.D in Biotechnology. Faiz, meanwhile, has secured Bachelor’s degrees in Commerce and Law and is now preparing for his competitive exams to become an advocate in the Bilaspur Court.
Sabrin draws inspiration from her teacher, Manoj Jangde, who is also the director of Jan Vikas Parishad Evam Anusandhan Sansthan. Beyond tutoring her, he and his wife have also generously supported Sabrin and her family by connecting them with institutions and NGOs to receive assistance and guidance, including putting them in touch with Vicky Roy.
When Sabrin is not doing chores or studying, she loves to watch TV and is a fan of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Once, while she was channel-surfing, she discovered films from south India and got hooked. Now she avidly watches them, particularly the Tamil and the action-packed ones. Cartoon films are another favourite. She enjoys going on picnics to places around Bilaspur with her extended family. The family has five pet parakeets that Sabrin feeds throughout the day. As they flutter about in the house, she likes to catch them and play with them. Cooking is another of her hobbies and the family relishes her white sauce pasta.
Sabrin eagerly looks forward to her birthday celebrations. There is no excuse for her family to forget it, because two months in advance she starts reminding everyone by frequently pointing to the date on the calendar! “We sometimes try to plan a surprise for her,” says Saman. “Even if she guesses beforehand that we are up to something, she pretends like she knew nothing about it.”
“I also want a mobile phone to see videos like my friends,” Sabrin keeps telling her mother. “In due time, Sabrin,” Saida assures her.