"Musings of music"
- Athul Mohan T M
Sreelakshmi is a highly talented singer and working as a music teacher as well. She was born in Cherthala, Alappuzha and spent her later days in Trivandrum and Aluva since her father- an accountant by profession- had to move to places with his job. She did the major share of her studies in Trivandrum, including her Bachelor degree in Arts from the Women's College and Post Graduation from Swathi Thirunal College of Music.
Sreelakshmi began to learn music when she was six years old and even opted it as her specialization in her higher secondary syllabus. Her father- whom she calls as the supreme judge who suggests the comments in the areas to improve- understood her taste towards music very well since she was a child. He has narrated her the way baby Sreelakshmi responded to records and Carnatic keerthanas which were played on Radio. Mrs. Sharada- a faculty from Blind School holds a significant share in identifying her student's passion towards learning music. She has learned Veena and also tried to learn Violin along with the music practice.
In her words, the college was not a great space with adequate support. Movements like Praptha were not so popular back then. There were challenges and also marginalization. Once she was replaced by someone from the group song competition even after successfully cracking the selection process. The reason was "it is difficult for the parents and teachers to bring her to the venue."
Some people often comment "people like this can only do things like these". In other words, the people perceive things as people with visual disabilities have chosen to learn music just because they have the disability. Some of her efforts and skills have met with devaluation and exaggerated praises due to the narrow-minded perspective of society at times.
"When I started to teach music, some of the family members approached me to learn music online. It was a moment of pride and happiness." She used to do 'Kacheris' and stage programs. The number of events declined during the Pandemic. However, she could start the online classes during this time and students, and parents contacted her.
There are coordination issues, the speed related problems from the orchestra and lack proper sync among the artists etc., are some of the major challenges. The process of 'niraval" also falls difficult upon her when she performs alone.
Once Mrs Sharada asked her classmate's parent to inform Sreelakshmi regarding a program which was going happen at Tharangini School of Music. The parent informed neither Sreelakshmi nor her parents. In response, that person told to the teacher that she didn't inform anyone thinking it would end up in complications with mobility for the child's family. "You have done so much standing within your limitations is the worst comment one can listen from the public and friends. Saying bye to toxic comments is the best" Sreelakshmi suggests.
She never skips her one hour- regular practice. Journeys were difficult at times and she had met with accessibility issues though her father took her everywhere for every programs. There were problems regarding payments as well. The income was generally low. She had to pay them even for participating in a program and performing.