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Braveheart

The extraordinary story of Jana, a young boy who has succeeded against great odds


IT WAS an evening that changed his life. Returning from school three years ago, Janarthanan, then nine years old, went to play with his friends on the terrace of his flat in Porur. An iron rod he was swirling came into contact with a transmission wire running adjacent to his building. The boy was badly burnt and had to be rushed to hospital.

In seven days, the medical bills had shot up to Rs. 1.50 lakhs and the boy had to be shifted to the Stanley Government Medical College. Though Jana was in a bad shape, child specialist Dr. Seeniraj hoped against hope and managed to save him from the jaws of death. But the doctor took one more challenge upon himself - he told himself he would make Jana's life as normal as possible. That was indeed a tall order as the accident had all but destroyed his body. His right hand had been amputated till the shoulders, his left hand till the elbow, his left leg till the knee and the toes on his right leg were also gone. His upper body too was badly scarred by the accident.

Dr. Seeniraj asked the boy to focus on what he could do rather than on what he could not - he encouraged him to write with his mouth. The boy took the advice seriously. He would practise writing till late in the night. Sadly, he did not have any use for writing, as most schools were not willing to take him. As luck would have it, S.R.N.M. Matriculation School in Nesapakkam was willing to admit Jana. In those early days, he evoked a mixed response from the other students. While some shrank from him in horror, others could not but marvel at his ability to write with his mouth. In time, they were also marvelling at his ability to paint.


Thanks to his father's encouragement, he took part in painting competitions, first at school and then elsewhere. To everyone's astonishment, he kept winning prizes.

Jana proved he could paint as well as other kids and even better than some of them. His crowning glory is the string of successes (three in a row) at the national level painting competitions held by the Victoria Technical Institute. Today, Jana is expanding his horizons by learning graphic design and animation.

Jana's accomplishments were made possible partly because of the sacrifice of his father Kesavan, who sold his printing press to meet the costs of Jana's medical treatment. "Jana says that he will work towards restoring his family's fortunes," says the proud father.

The Government of India has taken note of Jana's will to excel against great odds. Today, this brave young boy will receive the President's Award at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi.

PRINCE FREDERICK

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