THE HANDLESS ARTIST
At a nondescript corner along the Ganges in Rishikesh sits 38-year-old Anjana. Stray dogs nibble at her stationery, flies hover around her and the stench of the garbage makes the surrounding unbearable. Yet, Anjana is undeterred. She continues to sketch on a sheet of paper with deep concentration and undivided focus.
This may seem like the story of any roadside artist, but Anjana is different. She doesn’t have arms and one of her legs is half the length of the other, thus compelling her to squat in order to walk. Every day, for over a year, she has been travelling for 6 km to occupy a place along the river and showcase her paintings that she creates deftly with her right foot. Her daily journey is laden with danger as she has to walk long distances on congested roads, cross a bridge, board a ferry and then finally take a spot along the river. Anjana’s commute becomes even more cumbersome during the scorching heat of the summers and the heavy downpour during monsoons.
Anjana’s association with art started a year back when she tried to write ‘ram naam’ on pieces of paper with a pen clasped between her toes. Recognizing her talent, a foreign tourist bought her drawing materials and encouraged her to channel her innate talent. Over the next few months, Anjana undertook relentless efforts to perfect her art and eventually started selling her paintings. Now, art has become her source of income for her earnings help run a family of five.
Anjana is the sole breadwinner of the family. Anjana’s brother is paralysed while her brother’s wife has to stay at home to take care of him and their school going children. Her earning of 4000 rupees a month is spent on food, clothing, medicines, school fees and room rent.
Anjana’s story is one of inspiration. True to her name – meaning the mother of Lord Hanuman – Anjana has won over numerous physical and financial challenges and remained strong in the face of hardship. Anjana is determined to provide a better quality of life to her family through her creativity. However, one must realize that her source of income is not steady. Although kind tourists and passersby at times buy her painting equipment, but how will she invest in paper and paints when the inflow of tourists reduces drastically? What will she do when her paintings remain unsold? How will she tide over the crisis of her paintings being washed away in the rains? Will her family go hungry? Will her brother’s children stop going to school?
Anjana and her family need security. She yearns for a decent accommodation. She dreams of a stall where she can draw and sell her paintings with dignity. She aspires for a life that is not marred by uncertainty.
Anjana is striving every day to do the best she can for her family. Now, it is our turn to assist Anjana in whichever way possible and transform her dream into reality.
Please do your bit to help her live her dreams, to help her educate her brother’s children, to help her in treating her brother, to help her in providing a better shelter to her family and to help her in taking her art to a higher platform.
Let us join hands to take Anjana’s noble efforts forward!