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Special strokes

Uday and Narasimhalu, who are physically challenged, use the canvas to express themselves


THERE ARE so many things we take for granted. Like our body, which functions on its own even without us being aware of it. But it is only when things go wrong and there is something missing that life assumes a new meaning. Uday and Narasimhalu are two individuals who suffer from debilitating physical handicaps — one can use only his hand, while the other, only his foot. But talk to them and you find that they have accepted their plight with forbearance and fortitude. There's no place for self pity or doubt. They are both artists. Colourful images and landscapes are painted in their minds and the inner eye perceives and internalises the beauty, acting as a tonic when the going is tough. For Uday, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, the canvas is his world. A bird, boats sailing into the sunset, a woman admiring herself or the solitary flautist come alive on his canvas! His work also comprises abstract Indian figures, a series on the Mona Lisa, yet another one on musicians and many more in acrylic, oil and charcoal. He also creates images on the computer. Uday got interested in painting as a child and has developed his art more seriously during the past five years.

Muscular dystrophy is a progressive disorder that causes weakness of the muscles. As the disease progresses movement becomes difficult. Uday, who is 90 per cent disabled, has to be carried around. Of late, his throat muscles have been weakening, which has led to his voice becoming fainter.

Despite these physical obstacles, Uday, whose favourite colour is yellow, paints with enthusiasm. He says, "I get complete satisfaction when I paint. I want to be on my own. I just want to prove that people like me can achieve something. I too want to earn and be independent. And I want people to see my work."

He also has a wry sense of humour. Ask him about his favourite things and he says, "Jyothika". And actor? "Vikram," he says promptly.

Uday lives with his family. Students of occupational therapy from a nearby college often keep him company, during the day, when his family members are at work. Narasimhalu, on the other hand, is a bit restrained when you meet him at the Orthopaedic Centre, Andhra Mahila Sabha. An orphan, he lives there and is taken care of by the staff. "He can be mischievous especially, when there are children," his therapist says. Narasimhalu suffers from cerebral palsy (athetoid). As he is unable to use his hands, he paints with his feet and toes, and does some amazing embroidery. "It began as a hobby," but he enjoyed it so much that he now wants to do it professionally.

The 27-year-old is a symbol of courage and perseverance. Most of his work reflects a preoccupation with Nature — flowers, birds, and houses amidst mountains, the sun, and rivers. He uses acrylic, watercolours and computer. And like Uday, he too loves yellow for its brightness. He is at present doing a course at Arena Multimedia, Vadapalani. Narasimhalu says he lives for the moment, for he does not know what the future holds for him. He loves old film songs, though he does not watch too many films. "I record songs myself," he says with pride. People around him say that he enjoys tinkering with electrical gadgets. Narasimhalu gives a lot of thought to those less fortunate than him. . Ask him what he would want from life, he says with a semblance of smile, "A personal computer and a meeting with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. I have written several letters to her, but haven't got any response as yet. If that happens, it will make me happy." Uday can be contacted at 22490449 and Narasimhalu at the Andhra Mahila Sabha.

The Rotary Club of Ashok Nagar has organised an exhibition of some of the works of Uday and Narasimhalu at the Ambassador Pallava Hotel, Montieth Road, till September 14.

CHITRA MAHESH

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