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Hearing-impaired Tripura boy makes his paintings talk, awaits top award

The 14-year-old Pankaj Roy is also a cricket, table tennis and badminton enthusiast, and has taken part in national-level events.

india Updated: Jul 09, 2017 20:58 IST
Priyanka Deb Barman
Priyanka Deb Barman
Hindustan Times, Agartala
Hearing Impaired,Speech Impaired,Indian Council for Child Welfare
Pankaj Roy top prize in a nationwide contest conducted by the Indian Council for Child Welfare. (Priyanka Deb Barman / HT Photo)

Pankaj Roy, 14, dances to music he cannot hear. And he lets his paintings speak what he cannot express in words.

His dancing is yet to progress beyond the Tripura contest circuit, but his painting has earned him the top prize in a nationwide contest conducted by the Indian Council for Child Welfare in 2014.

He is scheduled to receive the award – along with winners of the next two years – in New Delhi in November.

When the council broke the news a few days ago, Pankaj’s parents realised their hearing and speech-impaired son was really special.

“Doctors advised us to go for cochlear implant in Chennai when we discovered his disability when he was three. But we couldn’t afford it. We though his future was doomed, but he has proved us wrong,” said his mother Purnima Roy, wiping away tears of joy.

A painting by Pankay Roy. (Priyanka Deb Barman / HT Photo)

The mother recalled Pankaj picked up a pencil at the age of six to reproduce from a calendar the picture of a farmer ploughing his field. Unknown to them, the boy also became familiar with English alphabets from signboards and nameplates.

It was then that the Roys based in Bishalgarh, about 18 km from state capital Agartala, decided to admit their differently-abled son in a school for the speech and hearing impaired. Pankaj’s mother later shifted to Agartala for his special classes.

A painting by Pankay Roy. (Priyanka Deb Barman / HT Photo)

Besides painting, Pankaj was found to be a quick learner – from academics to sports such as cricket, table tennis and badminton. He also took part in badminton at a national sports event for the deaf.

“Painting is his medium of expression. One can have a glimpse of Tripura’s culture through his paintings,” Purnima said.

Pankaj’s teacher Joy Bhattacharya, a lecturer in the Government College of Arts and Crafts, waxed eloquent on his student. “He is highly creative and has the ability to implement ideas. His dedication has earned him a scholarship from the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training under the central ministry of culture,” he said.

Pankaj is scheduled to take part in a national-level painting competition in Odisha this month.

The boy’s talent took him to Rashtrapati Bhavan via a trip organised by the Assam Rifles in 2015. President Pranab Mukherjee accepted one of his paintings.

“Pankaj is multi-talented, and it is unbelievable how he has picked up dancing to beats he cannot hear. He is a born genius,” Siddhartha Shankar Deb, a college teacher, said.

The boy’s father, Manoj Roy teaches mathematics at a girls’ higher secondary school. His elder brother Aguntuk works in Goa while younger brother Mainak is in class 9.

First Published: Jul 09, 2017 16:57 IST