Rajesh Vilas Shinde is 17 years old and studies in Class VII. His father doesn’t have a permanent job and works as a daily wage earner. His mother works as a housemaid. Rajesh also has two sisters and a brother, all of who attend normal schools. According to his teachers, he is a good student and takes active interest in studies. He loves playing cricket and chess and is a good swimmer, too. Last year, he finished first in the 400-metre race at the district level. Rajesh also contributes to his family’s wages by selling newspapers during his vacations and making Ganesh idols
Sixteen-year-old Jeetendra Dinanath Yadav is also in Class VII. His father sells vada pav on a street side cart, while his mother is a housewife. He has four younger brothers who go to normal schools. Jeetendra is interested in judo, karate and cricket. Each year he actively participates in stage performances, especially dance and drama, in his school’s annual day function. Everyday after school he helps his father in his business.
Annu Rakesh Pandey is a 14-year-old girl and is in Class V. She has an elder sister and a younger brother who attend normal schools. She stays with her father, who is an auto-rickshaw driver, while her mother stays in her native place. While Annu loves playing outdoor games, she also takes care of domestic work and helps her mother in stitching clothes.
Rajesh, Jeetendra and Annu are students of Thane’s Kamalini Karnabadhir Vidyalaya, a school for the hearing impaired. But the trio have more than just their hearing disability in common. For one, they come from the lower economic strata, where existence is usually hand to mouth. For another, their disability and social background notwithstanding, they display enormous talent.
The three are extremely talented in drawing and have, on more occasions than one, surprised the peers and teachers by demonstrating an exceptional ability to create award-winning illustrations. What makes their effort special is that the school does not have a drawing teacher. So, in spite of no formal training whatsoever, the three win all the drawing competitions in which they participate.
Their school is situated at Jijamata road in Thane East and has 60-odd students suffering from hearing impairment. The school has trained teachers in routine subjects, but being run by an NGO trust, it cannot afford to appoint a drawing teacher. Moreover, they don’t get too many opportunities to demonstrate their talent.
Archana Nare, the principal of the school says, “These students can’t participate in many inter-school competitions because the parents can’t afford participation fees. So they have to remain content with competitions that are organised by various NGOs in our school.”
The purpose of this story is not to highlight the exceptional talents of three hearing impaired students, but to underline the importance of determination and self-confidence. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some use their weaknesses to give excuses for not taking any initiatives and then blaming their misfortune for everything that goes wrong in their lives.
Others count their blessings and focus on their strengths, converting every obstacle into an opportunity to prove that success is the result of an attitude, not of luck. The triple talents of Kamalini Karnabadhir Vidyalaya focus on their strengths – the dexterity of their hands and the imaginative power of their minds. Only time will tell if they will make their mark in the world of art. But one thing is certain – if they continue to believe in themselves, their self-confidence is sure to take them places.