What makes my sister Riza special is everything but her condition!
Written by: Nisha Shah
Born with Down Syndrome, Riza has taken life in her stride and fought fearlessly whenever life has thrown challenges her way! Reya, her elder sister, shares stories of their sisterhood and what makes her sister special.
“I was 5 when Riza was born—I remember she was a premature baby; so tiny and frail! I didn’t know what exactly it was, but some part of me knew she was very ‘different’–I understood she needed to be cared for since everyone was handling her delicately. But, it wasn’t until I was 12 that I spoke to Mom and realised she had Down Syndrome.
But obviously, nothing changed—growing up, we’d play a lot with dolls and barbies. In fact, she was like my real-life doll! I’d dress her up, wrap a dupatta around her like a saree and give her a makeover! She loved it–dressing up and doing the ramp walk made her feel like a celebrity! And then we’d also watch Bollywood movies together. You know, we hardly ever fought, in fact, I was like her second mother–I felt so strongly about protecting her.
This strengthened even more whenever we’d go out—I’d notice Rizu being treated differently because of how she looked. Once, at a gathering some kids said, ‘We won’t include her, she’s not like us’. I remember walking angrily towards them and taking Rizu by the hand — ‘You come with me Rizu, we’ll play’.
And then when she turned 6, she suffered a catastrophic fall that resulted in a neck dislocation. She had to undergo surgery, but despite everything, she was always smiling around us and making an effort to get back on her feet. She’s our strong girl–she’s 24 but still frequently exclaims, ‘I underwent that difficult surgery at the age of 9, and look where I am now!’ She has recovered stronger and inspired many people around us – they say, ‘if she can do this, what’s stopping us?’
In 2021, she even auditioned for the Be Beautiful Be Yourself fashion event–Mom was part of a Down Syndrome group and that’s how we found out about it. Since the pandemic was still going on, the auditions happened online and 2 months later, Riza was selected! The cherry on the top? She’s the only Indian chosen and invited to the USA for the event! We were overjoyed– I couldn’t be more proud!
She’s fully focused on her prep right now—be it her walking, her speech, or even her look. She’s working very hard—the event is in a few days & there's no stopping her.
You know, Riza has gone through a lot since a young age but despite all of it, she is still a positive person and what makes her special is everything but her condition!
Being India’s biggest storytelling platform, Humans of Bombay is all about bringing you extraordinary stories of ordinary people. Today, we bring you this inspiring story of a girl with Down Syndrome & her beautiful relationship with her sister to remind you that no matter what condition one suffers from, they can achieve everything if they set their mind to it. If you’d like to read more such stories, check out our book and dive into the diverse tales of a country with billion beating hearts!
How sweet ♥️♥️
What a sweet story!