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Just like a comet

     “There is nothing as extreme as the love for books”, observes Ramya, a young poet hailing from Kayamkulam, Allepey. She is an avid reader of literature and an ardent follower of A. Ayyappan- a renowned and highly discussed Malayalam poet.

     Her fondness towards poetry was explicit right from a tender age. As a teenager, she used to scribble down random thoughts that flashed through her mind and gradually, she developed an affinity towards passionate reading. Ramya becomes exuberant as she tells us about her love for reading. She fondly recalls the pleasures of ordering a book and waiting for it to be delivered. She compares herself to a small child waiting eagerly for their weekly comics.

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     A major rung in the ladder of her success was, according to her, the wide platform offered by social media. In the initial days of her journey, Ramya discovered literature pages and people’s collective groups on Facebook which planted in her the idea to follow something similar. She found in herself the immense urge to write on public platforms but she didn’t want everyone on social media to know it because validation was not her dream at all. The budding artist resorted to creating a private space for herself on Facebook, where no one among her family or friends discovered her. It was not until the day one of her poems was broadcasted by Aakashawani that her family discovered the hidden talent in her.  Posting on Facebook boosted her confidence, happiness and curiosity to write more. “It is in fact commendable how social media has opened up opportunities for artists like me. Before the dawn of social media, expression of talent was the sole privilege of a few financially and otherwise privileged people. But now, artists are able to find a platform and audience for themselves, thanks to Facebook”, she says. Remya learnt to review her poems from the perspectives of her readers as well. However, that did not in any way stop her from expressing her true self through her poems.

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     Apart from being a poet, Remya is an entrepreneur in the field of craft. She sells handicrafts like Bottle art, craft work, explosion box etc. She sees a promising future for herself in the area of crafts. The young girl remarks that even though she is not sure about making a living out of poems, she will continue to make and sell her craft work. When asked about her plans for the future, Remya says she is a spontaneous person and does not worry much about making concrete plans and says that she is well equipped to face any obstacles life might throw at her later. According to her, satisfaction is the best self-care.

     Remya also expresses her discontent with the society. She laments that when she wins a prize, the society refuses to consider the award as an appreciation of her talent, but merely as a grace award presented to boost her motivation. However the truth is that, the organisers may not even be aware of her disability before selecting her for the award! The poet considers the normalised notion of sympathy as unbearably toxic. For instance, Remya feels disturbed when people pay more than the estimate for her craft works, due to pure sympathy. “Artists with disability want inclusion rather than sympathy”, observes Remya. Unlike popular belief, Remya testifies that women with disabilities are less marginalized than women without disabilities in our society. This notion of privilege might however be sprouting from the unsolicited sympathy that society showers upon women with disabilities.

   Interview by                     
  - Veena venugopal
      Jaseela Jannath
                                          
Story by
-Athul Mohan T M