"Freedom on wheel"
Jayesh K P, a graphic designer from Kuthattukulam, Ernakulam district, who has started running a troop ‘freedom on wheel’ (Thanal). He is a graduate in English Language and Literature. He was doing diploma after graduation and during that time he met with an accident and had a spinal cord injury. Jayesh is famous for his name Unni Marx rather than his real name. His wish was to become a journalist. But the accident has turned him into a full-time graphic designer.
Jayesh said, when he met with the accident, his friends were extremely supportive along with his family. He was the first person who has started to use the internet in his village. Those days, people were just getting their primary classes on the internet. Couple of years after the accident, Jayesh decided to find some people who have same disability (locomotive disability). He identified some people and started communicating with them through social media and mobile phones. Later, they formed as a group named Thanal. The first objective is to communicate with each other both inside and outside their homes. When the travel and other expenses became a matter for meeting they have started to think about earning. Then the group began to conduct skill training to manufacture soaps and other daily cosmetics in 14 districts. They made the training sessions lively with musical performances. A doctor named Mathew Nambeli had made a suggestion of forming a troop and perform to the public. At that time, there were no professional singers in the group, but all of them decided to accept the challenge and thus performed a show on a housewarming ceremony in 2015 as per the suggestions from Dr Mathew.
After the first show, they were getting invitations. A famous theatre troop named ‘Suvarna theatres’ booked their show on their 50th anniversary. This has been the turning point of the troop to the theatre field. After their music show, the troop was asked there to perform a drama. At first, they did not give any serious thought to the words, but later a person named V T Ratheesh has introduced a script to Jayesh and team and they accepted it. The script writer was directing the show, and their first show was inaugurated by actor Jayasurya at Ernakulam townhall. Later, they played four to five stage shows. Some of their shows got cancelled due to covid 19 pandemic.
It was a challenge for them to manage the rehearsal camp because, every troop member was from different places, and so, travelling was a concern for them. Also, the place that for the rehearsal camp was not accessible to everyone. It was difficult for them to manage the practices. However, they managed it with the support from family and crew members.
Jayesh extends his strong criticism of the system of our state, he opines that there is no concern that society and respective authority is giving to make public transportation, roads and tourist places to make more accessible.
He also criticizes the sympathetic attitude of society and he narrated one incident; many of the places that they have done stage shows was inaccessible for them (inaccessible infrastructure). Due to this, the organizers have to carry the performers to the stage which made the crew uncomfortable. They became nervous on that time, but Jayesh overcame because of the team spirit. He has also mentioned the judgmental attitude of audience whether the team will be able to perform or not. Later, when they showed their talents, all of them were accepted.
According to Jayesh, his friends and family were behind his success with their empathetic approach and he has mentioned the same approach from society. Jayesh concluded “there is no need of sympathy towards person with disability to make our society more inclusive from individual level to administrative level to which everyone should put their hands together.”