She may not see them too well but eight-year-old Aaritha VV loves colours and can do wonders with a paintbrush. Afflicted with congenital cataract, she has undergone five corrective surgeries and is getting ready for a sixth one. But that hasn't stopped her from completing more than 1,000 paintings and even having an exhibition of her work that has turned out to be a runaway hit.
“No doubt, this little wonder will be an accomplished painter one day,” says state education minister MA Baby, who met the prodigy recently.
The daughter of a poor mechanic, Shivadasan, Aaritha's love for colours started at the age of three. The walls of her humble home became her canvas, often getting her into trouble. “Initially, we did not take her seriously. But once we noticed her talent, we started encouraging her,” says her father, who also has the same affliction.
Shivadasan had a tough time meeting her growing demand for paper, crayons and watercolours. But even with three more mouths to feed, he ensured she got a steady supply of paiting material.
Green is Aaritha’s favourite colour, nature her inspiration. "I like mother nature. It gives us everything," she says. Reserved and shy, the Class III student also does well in school. "A studious child, she has a photographic memory," says Sunil Kumar, a resource teacher with the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. The SSA is now sponsoring most of her events.
Shivadasan had to mortgage his land twice to meet the expenses of his daughter's treatment. But help has come his way recently.
“A Coimbatore-based eye clinic performed the last two operations for free and has promised to do the next one too,” he says, hoping the sixth time will prove lucky for Aaritha and help her reach her full potential.
“If she can paint like this with her impaired vision, she can do wonders when she attains her vision fully,” Kumar shares his optimism. Visitors to the exhibition nod in agreement.