Healing with art
Compensation from the local administration followed and she was enrolled into an age-appropriate class at Gudighat high school, 6 km from Jamunabahal.
BHUBANESWAR: New life awaits Payal Nag. Maimed for life after losing all her four limbs in a freak mishap, art has helped the 16-year-old girl of Balangir put the trauma behind her and start life afresh.
A talented artist, Payal draws beautiful portraits with her mouth. Impressed with her art, the state government is now providing her with high-end robotic limbs and she is undergoing the fitment process at the Advanced Rehabilitation Centre in Bhubaneswar.
Daughter of migrant labourers Janata and Bijay Nag of Jamunabahal village in Balangir, Payal and her five-member family had migrated to Raipur in neighbouring Chhattisgarh to work in a brick kiln in 2015. In April that year when her parents were working, she stepped on a live wire while playing. Her injuries from the electrocution were so deep that the doctors had to amputate both her legs and hands. The incident came to light five months later when the family came home for Nuakhai. Compensation from the local administration followed and she was enrolled into an age-appropriate class at Gudighat high school, 6 km from Jamunabahal.
Having exhausted all their savings for her treatment, Bijay and his wife moved back to Raipur in search of work, leaving behind Payal and her younger brother in the custody of their elder daughter. Payal and her brother travelled to school in a rickshaw every day. But the initial days at school weren’t easy. Seeing other children write effortlessly, Payal felt helpless. “I was the odd one out in my entire school but I didn’t want to give up on education because of that. My teachers encouraged me to try writing and drawing with my mouth,” she said. Determined to learn like her classmates, Payal picked up the skill in a few months.
While her disability could not hinder her education, Covid-19 did. Post-pandemic when the schools reopened in 2021, she had to drop out due to difficulty in commuting. She was in Class IX then. “Due to the lockdown, we exhausted almost all the money that we had. Sending her to school daily became impossible. But Payal would study sometimes at home and she had developed a liking towards drawing the mountains and valleys that surround our village with her mouth,” said Bijay. She found solace in colours.
When the Balangir administration came to know about Payal’s plight, they brought her to Parbatigiri Balniketan (childcare institution) to facilitate her education and nutrition. She was admitted to Class-IX at the Sadeipali Pallishree high school. Last year, she participated in the block and district-level Surabhi event organised by the School and Mass Education department where she drew on the themes of education and sanitation. While she bagged the first prize at block-level competition, Payal secured the second rank at the district-level event. “In all these years, my fascination towards colours and painting has only increased. When I had nothing to do at home, I was drawing scenery around me. I can keep painting for hours,” Payal said with a smile.
Seeing her interest in art, local administration hired an art tutor for Payal at the CCI who helped her hone her skill. She impressed Development Commissioner Anu Garg by drawing a portrait of her during the latter’s visit to Balangir in April this year. Garg directed the Social Security & Empowerment of Persons With Disabilities department to give her a better life with robotic limbs. Ecstatic, Payal now looks forward to painting with her new hands.
Facing each day was a challenge for Payal Nag who lost her hands and legs in a devastating accident at the age of 8. She took the art route to leave the trauma behind and is now impressing people with portraits that she draws with her mouth, writes Diana Sahu