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Stroke of success

Ten-year-old Abhiram can stay afloat in water for hours together and even perform acrobatic feats.


ABHIRAM IS like any 10-year-old; hardly able to sit still for more than a few minutes together. He is ready to play even with his handkerchief. Another pastime of his is to stay afloat in water for hours together.

Abhiram not only stays afloat like a log, but also adopts certain postures like those in yoga while in water. He can balance a cup and saucer on his chest with as much ease as imitate Lord Krishna, complete with the flute. His latest feat - staying afloat on his side, a la Ananthashayana.

This student of Arya Central School stumbled on his talent quite by accident. A few months into learning swimming at the Water Works swimming pool at Vellayambalam, Abhiram tried to stay afloat on his back while frolicking in the water. To his surprise, he did manage it. "I could do it for around five minutes in the beginning. Gradually, the amount of time I could stay afloat increased. Now, I can stay like that up to two hours. I even manage to balance myself on my side now," says the class V student.

But if one thought it was yoga practice that helped him achieve this feat, one couldn't be more off the mark. Abhiram has never learnt yoga. "The postures were, in fact, suggested by Vijaykumar, who teaches Abhiram swimming at the Water Works pool," says his father, Balachandran, who works with the Kerala Police.

"We are now trying to get Abhiram entered into the Guinness Book of World Records. Initial inquiries have revealed that no similar record exists. We have received intimation that a handful of their officials will come for the verification purpose soon."

What does Balachandran think of his son's talent? "When his teacher, Vijaykumar, told me about it, I did not give it a second thought. But it was the enthusiasm of Vijaykumar and the other kids there that got me interested. After all, only a rare few can perform such a feat and with years of practice behind them. And it is virtually unheard of in a kid, especially one who has no knowledge of yoga."

How do others, especially his friends, react to Abhiram's newfound fame? "Things are much the same as before," he replies. Adds his mother, Sreelatha, "Except that all teachers at his school now know him and are eager to know about his latest feat. The school authorities, especially the principal, have been very supportive."

"Some of my friends brag they can do the same in water, but always fail when the time comes," he says after a while, grinning.

His biggest encouragement, he says, is his father, who exhorts him to try his hand at newer feats. Says Balachandran, "We have heard of people crossing the English Channel and Suez Canal after swimming long distances. We think his talent will help him achieve similar things before long."

This is not all there is to Abhiram. He has also been learning vocal music under Alleppey Sreekumar and the mridangam under the tutelage of Jayadevan for a year and a half now. "After seeing his elder sister, Aparna, dance and sing, he too wanted to get enrolled for music lessons," says Balachandran.

But for now, the pool is his life. He practises up to two hours on most days. Ask him what his ambition is and pat comes the reply, "Entering the Guinness Book of Records."

But what of the Suez Canal? "Not at the moment," he says.

R. K. ROSHNI

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