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"Beauty of Vision"
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     Gopika Unnikrishnan is a young artist from Kunnamkulam, Thrissur who has just turned 19 and is pursuing under graduation in BA Malayalam. She is extremely passionate about painting and craft work. She elaborates to us, her love for mural paintings. Gopika draws her inspiration from her sister who is herself a person with disability.

     At present, Gopika is working for a society named Integrated Development Society from where she receives the encouragement and support to nurture her talent. She is also able to sell her work through the medium of that society. The beauty of Nature rouses her interests and artistic flair and she tells us that most of her paintings include the symbolism of the peacock feather. The peacock feather, she says, symbolises her intense love and devotion towards Lord Krishna, to whom she presents all her paintings.

     Gopika explains that the society as a whole has been rather kind to her. She is one of the very few escapees from society’s persecution. She was always only looked on with kind eyes by the people around her and was never subjected to discrimination or ostracism on account of her disability (osteogenesis). However, such was not the case with her sister, who had to discontinue her education after the 5th grade due to exclusion from peer circles and the unempathetic approach of the school authorities.

     She confesses that until she received the first prize for a drawing competition conducted by the school when in 7th grade, she was not aware of her talent in painting and craft work. She considers this moment of revelation of her talent at the school competition to be the happiest moment in her life hitherto. She says that it was at that moment that she received the first appreciation for her talent.

     Gopika recalls in gratitude, all the support and appreciation she received from her family, teachers and friends. She credits her success to this constant and unwavering support. She shares a school time experience to demonstrate the extreme compassion and support exhibited by her parents and classmates alike.  While in high school, during a PTA meeting, one of the parents suggested that Gopika be sent to a special school instead of an ordinary government school.

     The parent also expressed her dissatisfaction with her daughter sharing the classroom with a person with disability. Gopika was heartbroken on hearing this and anxiously wondered what the reaction of her parents and classmates would be. However, the class unanimously put her inhibitions to rest, by siding with her. "We are not ready to send Gopika out. If anyone feels discomfort in sharing the room with Gopika they can get the TC and quit the school”, they said in a single voice.

     Gopika boldly expresses her dissatisfaction with the functioning of the government. She laments that many of our government offices are still not disabled friendly. She recalls the foul experience she had while at the social justice department of Thrissur district. She said she was forced to seek her father’s help in climbing the stairs, because the building lacked ramp facility for her wheelchair. Gopika opines that at least in government building the infrastructure should be made disabled friendly. According to Gopika, in spite of the hundred percent literacy rate, Kerala is still regressive in its approach towards persons with disability.  

     Gopika concluded her words "I'm just 19 right now and I am in the progress of learning more about painting and art work. I would like to explore in depth my field of interest and my aim is to become a renowned artist”