Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
 

Swaras of Determination

WhatsApp Image 2021-05-25 at 4.47.29 PM.

Blindness was never a shackle too fierce for Aiswarya or her parents. What makes her stand apart is her refusal to acknowledge her disability as a potential drawback. Right from childhood, she displayed an enthusiastic participation in school and social events. She was also graced with an abundance of support from her teachers and parents.

“The teachers of blind school, Vazhuthacaud were extremely supportive. They introduced me to the world of music by taking me to Special School Talent Fests and even Radio programmes at Akashavani”, Aiswarya recalls.

          When she shifted from the Blind school to Cotton Hill high school in Eighth grade, her transition was smooth and effortless. She did not falter in the face of newly introduced hardships. Instead, she coped up by recording classes and later taking down notes in Braille and by reading braille books from the library. It goes without saying that Aiswarya, with her admirable dedication, excelled more than her abled peers not only in studies but also in Talent Fests. It is in fact commendable how she refused to even employ a scribe for the class tests!

          Her disability was never an impediment to her progress. Not once has Aiswarya shied away from resorting to public transport like buses and auto rickshaws for travel. According to her, the question of transportation did not pose any extra discomforts on account of her disability.

WhatsApp Image 2021-05-25 at 4.47.28 PM.

However, “Blind people are not given exemptions from taking tickets in Private buses. The benefit is only available in KSRTC buses and this should be rectified”, she says.

WhatsApp Image 2021-05-25 at 4.47.27 PM.

          The society as a whole has been kind to her, never reminding her about her disability. She was lucky enough to be one of the very few escapees of society’s bigotry and prejudice. Aiswarya never had to face any discrimination from her schoolmates, teachers or relatives on account of her blindness. Quite on the contrary, she was encouraged to recite poems at school assemblies and take to part in competitions designed for her abled peers.

          “My teachers encouraged me to take part in music competitions right from childhood. After bagging the second prize for light music at an event in Lions’ Club, it was Shahida teacher who persuaded me to join music classes. I’m indebted to her for the help”, remarks Aiswarya. 

          Her father, a retired officer from the military and her mother, a homemaker, have always been a source of constant support and encouragement for her. From the very day she spoke to them about music being her passion to this moment, both her parents have been encouraging and helpful. They accompanied her to every stage performance she ever did and motivated her to excel in music. Aiswarya, today, has mastered light music, folk music, and even classical music. When asked about her first stage performance, she proudly recalls the light music competition she won when in second grade. Aiswarya relished the moment as she hummed “Thiruvennilavinte Kulirarna Snehamayi…” once again for us.

          When she was four years old, Aiswarya joined a school in Delhi where they focused only on imparting vocational skills like pottery, cooking and stitching to their disabled students. However, she was not ready to limit her horizon merely to that. Her academic life did not centre solely on disabled friendly institutions; disability was never her identity. Even when in normal schools like Cotton Hill, she proved her academic brilliance and also her intense passion for music, battling all other shortcomings.

 

Aiswarya is an ardent admirer of singer KS Chitra.

WhatsApp Image 2021-05-25 at 4.47.27 PM

          She becomes exuberant as she recalls her interactions with the singer. “I had the opportunity to meet Chitra madam and to sing along with her at Magic Planet once. She liked my song and even congratulated me. I also sang at Cotton Hill School on the occasion of Chitra madam’s birthday. One time she even presented me with the prize for Malayalam recitation.” Aiswarya remembers.

          She has also performed in front of singers like Vaikom Vijayalakshmi and has participated in television shows in channels like Mazhavil Manorama. Aiswarya tells us that her favourite raga is Mohana raga and that she finds the voice of Radhika Tilak the most soothing.

          We asked her what all reformations she would bring about if she was given supreme authority for one whole month and her reply was, “The disabled community is made to face numerous hardships on a daily basis. I will make a free pass for disabled passengers mandatory in all private buses. Braille and computer training will be made available for blind individuals. I will also make sure that more disabled friendly institutions are established and sound program enabled laptops are provided for visually impaired students. The reservation system will be edited to make more space and opportunities for disabled citizens”

          Aiswarya becomes synonymous with courage, integrity and strength. In spite of her disability this young girl does not seek sympathy or partiality from the society. She refuses to let her identity spring from her disability and instead perceives herself as someone who has transcended the fetters of her blindness. It has always been her music and not her disability that she chose to assign as the defining factor of her personality. When asked what she would name her future music institute, she instantly says she would call it “Layam” or “Transcendence”, which mirrors her own relationship with her disability and music.