As Kochi becomes the cynosure of all eyes, thanks to the Biennale, with artists from far-flung places displaying their paintings and installations at the country’s biggest art show, there is one artist who is lying in a city hospital laid low by a rare disease.
This is Aravindakshan Pulikkottu, 58, an alumni of the College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram, who is suffering from Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy, a rare disease that has paralysed his body. For the past nine years, he has been confined to the four walls of hospital rooms.
As Aravindakshan tells his story, it is astounding to learn about the strange ways of life. He says, “In the late 1970s, I specialised in Applied Arts from the Fine Arts College. And with youthful energy and hopes, I took a train to Mumbai to find a job.” He got one and worked as a designer for four years. Thereafter, he left for Bangalore, where Aravindakshan joined R K Swamy BBDO, India’s fourth largest advertising organisation, as executive designer, in 2005.
Then, just when he thought that he was blessed with the good things in life, the first blow came in the form of a pain in the limbs. “I found it difficult to walk,” says Aravindakshan. He consulted a doctor at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bangalore who told the artist that he was overweight. “The doctor prescribed rigorous exercises including walking,” says Aravindakshan. “But my health deteriorated progressively.”
In 2006, Aravindakshan returned to Kerala. For some time, he was an inmate at the Gurubaba Ashram at Guruvayur. Meanwhile, he was diagnosed with the disease. In 2010, he underwent a surgery, but gradually became fully paralysed. Later, Aravindakshan was admitted to Palace Hospital, Potta. He showed signs of recovery, but then his health deteriorated once again.
Now, he has been admitted to the Life Care Clinic Palarivattom, where he is undergoing neurorehabilitataion. Dr Biju Ravindran, who treats him, says, “Aravindakshan is recovering gradually. His muscle power has increased, and if he responds to the treatment, he can walk within four months. The total expense required for the treatment would come to Rs 7,50,000.”
Through all these years, Aravindakshan depended on the help from his friends. Initially his ex-wife’s family gave him some help. “Friends from my college and workplace, have always been my pillar of support,” he says. “But I know it is not possible for people to constantly help you. And right now, I have no idea how I am going to survive since I have no money with me.”
An ardent film buff, and reader, Aravindakshan has a positive mind-set which is his greatest strength. “Whatever has happened has happened,” he says. “I am sure I can recover if I get proper treatment. And after that, I want to stand on my own two legs.” Readers who wish to extend financial help can use the below account details. P Aravindakshan, Canara Bank, Manjeri Branch, pin code 676121AC/NO: 0855101060050, IFSC code: CNRB 0000855