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He is on a mission to bring diverse perspectives to Chicago audiences. But after a devastating health setback, a local theater director is fighting for his own ability to communicate. 

Malik Gillani is co-executive artistic director of Silk Road Rising, which he founded with his husband Jamil Khoury in 2003. 

“Malik has spent years fighting for people to have a voice and fighting for marginalized people and demonized people to have a voice to tell their story on their own terms,” said Khoury. “All of a sudden he is literally without his voice. His voice is gone and has to be recovered.” 

Two years ago, Gillani suffered a devastating stroke that left him with aphasia. 

“Aphasia can be a chronic condition in that it could never go away, however, we see progress every day, every week, every month, and every year,” said Dr. Melinda Corwin, a Professor and Clinical Instructor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. “It does not affect intellect rather it affects the access to the words and the symbols that we use for language.” 

In this WGN-TV Cover Story, Gaynor Hall and photojournalist Vincent Tagle report on how Gillani continues to persevere and inspire.