THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Akhilandeshwari would certainly surprise you. A pleasant and happy girl who is blind to the world around her appears so insightful and oozes confidence.
At the symposium ‘Film to fiction - An interdisciplinary approach’ being organised by the Department of English, College for Women here, the girl was the cynosure of all eyes as she took the centre stage to present a paper.
Yet, what impressed us was the fact that Akhila, who is visually-challenged, is a good dancer too. She has been learning Bharatanatyam for the past 15 years. Only recently, when she took up full-time PhD in African Literature at Holy Cross College, Trichy, did she leave her dance classes.
‘’It was my mother who used to accompany me to the dance classes. But once I joined PhD, she had to help me with the thesis and other projects. I thought she needed some rest,’’ Akhila smiles.
On a visit to a friend’s house while she was just eight, Akhila was taken in by the beats and music of the dance form. She began pestering her mother Janaki to let her learn dance. Though her mother was a bit anxious (‘what if the teacher says no?’), she approached the dance master R Saravanan, who thought there were no reasons why the visually-challenged girl should not learn dance.
‘’Some steps, that I was not able to follow, he would correct by holding my legs. But I have learnt the ‘mudras’ just like any other normal girl. It was not a big task for me because I loved it,’’ Akhila says. It is as if she puts others around her to shame and guilt for the way the world is bothered about her disability, while she is least conscious about it. She would tell you how no things or dreams have ever left her side for her not holding fast on to it.
Her father R Sreenivasan, a retired official, and mother Janaki, a housewife, along with her brother Sabarish, are the pillars of her life. ‘’They have been accompanying me everywhere. I found this news about the symposium on the Net and I wanted to come over and present a paper,’’ Akhila says. She presented the paper on ‘Recreating fiction on film in trans-cultural spaces in J M Coetzee’s ‘Waiting for the Barbarians.’’
Akhila is guided in her pursuit for PhD by Catherine Edward, who is her professor at the college in Trichy.
When the time for the presentation came, Akhila took the podium and presented her paper as her parents looked on. Krishnaprabha, coordinator of the symposium and English Professor at the College for Women, rightly put it when she said, ‘’Akhila’s endearing spirit is a lesson for many others.’’