"The place I live was not a so encouraging one. People believe in myths have even warned me not to draw faces because it will cause bad luck to the actual person. All the incredible support I started to get was from the time I met Suhra. But these days people recognize me as the child who paints with her legs. I have grabbed all the prizes I could. I believe I have participated in almost 100 competitions."
People have understood that Ummil Kulsu- A true lover of nature- capable to do things with her legs when they witnessed how she signed on the tick marks shown in the application with her toes when she was 8 years old.
Ummil Kulsu (known as 'Ullu' among her friends) has got a house six months ago as a gift for the artists from "Madhyamam" news trust and she lives there with her sister and mother. She was born without both hands and her right leg is shorter than her left one. Her parents were clueless and in deep sorrow about how to take care of her. People from the hospital suggested to leave the child to them since they knew the parents can not take care of such a child. Her loving and courageous mother never listened to that. She made the decision that she will take care of the child.
Kulsu never got her pension until she was 8 years old. For that reason the parents and child went to submit the application. The hospital had not given the certificate of her birth till that date. When the parents visited the hospital the authorities told that the child has to sign on the certificate and that day turned everything.
She could not pursue adequate education since the school was far from her place. She started copying every image that she had seen in the newspaper. She tried from miniatures such as faces, flowers with four petals and so on like a young child does. She was not quite aware of painting as an art form. Her father managed to buy the notebooks and color pencils as per her demand.
Once, while visiting the hospital, the inmates have overlooked her with their stereotypical prejudice and they asked her whether she can do anythig since she doesn't have both hands. But, she was ready to show her skills to them and broke their misconceptions by drawing an image using her toes. The people understood her will power and capacity and in return she got many colour pencils and colouring books. Those were a good share of motivation in addition to the applauds and appreciation. In her words, she views the scenario as "wherever I go I get something to draw".
Her father's demise put the family in uncertainty. Later, her sister got a life partner from the community marriage. From that occasion she met Suhra. Suhra was working with decoration grass which is being placed on various events. She came to Kulsu's house on the day before the wedding to draw mehendi arts on the bride's hand. She was looking for some youngsters so that she can do a trial and then spotted Kulsu. She fell in deep sorrow seeing Kulsu but with no hands. Suhra came to meet Kulsu again and she motivated Kulsu and introduced an artists' group and with the help of them Kulsu got chances to meet people and visit places. That community gifted a mobile phone first and a wheel chair later. The phone was a great boon for Kulsu with which she watched and learned the videos on arts and painting and slowly came to the habit of drawing.
She notices the image and the things she likes to draw, makes rough copies of those in a notebook and then does the fair work on the canvas. She is adament in completing the painting in one go and it normally takes 7-8 hours of work for her to complete the works. Her paintings were exhibited at various platforms such as Swapnachitra. The happiest moment in her life was sharing a portion of her first remuneration for a child's medicine and the journey to calicut with my teacher and friend's brother.
"Nobody imagined me doing all these things; not even my parents. Suhra and her family support me a lot. Most of the people I meet buy or send me gifts. I don't want people to show sympathy. I want the ones who support my art and creativity. How I drew or what my limitations are not their cup of tea. No need of special appreciation since I have drawn it with my legs. Tell me the faults instead of the fake appreciations." Ummil Kulsu says her confident words to the world.
Kulsu advises people to do the best of what they love to do. Let it be anything, work hard on that. Almighty will bring a chance to showcase your talents. Fear is something that everyone should work on. React when it is necessary. Stay strong and speak out loud for your rights.