CHENNAI: Karthikeyan sat on the road cross-legged, bent over his white chart, frowning as he scratched the bridge of his nose. At the end of an hour, his chart had the drawing of a blue and orange Mercedes, complete with the glorious three-pointed star on the bonnet. There was a little boy on the side of the car holding the car keys and a speech bubble that read “My car”. The little boy was none other than himself.
The 14-year-old was one of the 34 children from Kannagi Nagar who assembled on a small stretch of the road near the police station on the Independence Day for a drawing competition conducted by Inklink, an organisation started in 2012 by Kaustav Sengupta, a professor in the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Chennai, his wife Sashwati, and a bunch of volunteers.
“We wanted to change the general perception about the people here in Kannagi Nagar and prove that the children here were in no way inferior in skills compared to privileged children,” said Kaustav.
The children were trained in drawing and sketching during weekends where they also learned to make friends and gradually reduce the use of abusive language, a disposition that most pick up from their homes.
“I don’t call anyone ‘theenju pona moonji’ anymore,” said a nine-year-old, taking a minute from her sketch.
The classes that began a year ago were taken in a single-room house that belonged to J Rukmini who has lived in the area since 2001. “We met Rukmini at a workshop in Mahabalipuram. She was the one who told us the children here needed help. We don’t stop with just taking drawing classes; we take them on short trips and offer scholarships to those who do really well,” said Sashwati, the managing trustee.
They have also roped in beatboxing experts and the classes will begin shortly, she added.