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"Dhanyam Chaayaamayam"
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     It is often the most unexpected of junctures that change knocks on our doors. Dhanya, a singer from Moovatupuzha, too has tales of unexpected transformation to share with us. She explains how a tumor in her spinal cord caused a seismic shift in her life. Even as she permanently shifted into the wheelchair, Dhanya says she enjoyed the unwavering support of her mother and her husband.

     It was during this time of extreme disappointment and uncertainty that Dhanya participated in a camp conducted by ‘Thanal Palliative’. Here she got the opportunity to interact with and befriend others who were experiencing similar plights. It is from here that Dhanya cultivated the courage to imbibe positive changes into her life.

     Opportunity presented itself before her in the form of Dr Mathews who formed a music band under the administration of Thanal Palliative. Dhanya was selected as one of the members of the band which goes by the name Freedom on Wheels.

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     Although Dhanya exhibited a flair for singing and mono-act during her school years, she never thought she would spend her adult life pursuing those very skills. Eventually, after she got the opportunity to travel all over Kerala as part of the music band, Dhanya began to embrace her life and all the changes. It was during such a trip that they got a breakthrough opening- a chance to perform a play at Suvarna Theatres.

     Their play, Chaya, was never restricted to being labelled a wheelchair-drama. The horizons of the play extended way beyond their disability. Viewers, she says, appreciated the play for its true worth and not merely as a play performed by people with disabilities. Chaya was performed even at the 42nd Surya Festival.

     Dhanya does not deny the progress that is taking place in society, but laments that the pace of progress is very slow. She tells us that the rehearsals for the drama were not always at convenient locations, but the people around her made it easier for her.  She elaborates that initially people sympathize on account of her disability, but once she has proven her worth, the sympathy fades out and is replaced with genuine appreciation.

     Freedom on Wheels is active even during the lockdown. They have shot a short film titled Pangodan Family in Lockdown recently. Each artist in the group contributed their share while physically being at their home.

     Dhanya reiterates that the support of her family was what gave her the strength to tackle all the hurdles in life.

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