Born with a rare congenital disorder, characterised by multiple joint contractures, due to which both her limbs have been paralysed, Srilekha Mandalapalli was not one to be stopped from what she was destined to do. Arming herself with determination, she completed her graduation in commerce and took to painting in 2007. Now, at the upcoming Hyderabad Literature Festival (HLF 2017), she will showcase her talent to the world.
“This rare ailment deteriorates my condition day by day. Even when I was writing my exams, I would take an extra half hour to complete my answers. I used to draw cartoons since a long time and I always had an interest in painting. But since I can’t make use of my hands, the pen used to invariably be in my mouth. Over the days, as my muscle condition worsened, I thought ‘why not hold a brush in my mouth, instead of a pen?’. My mother was a fabric painter and I tried to follow her path. With the help of some coaching, I began painting on curtains,” says Srilekha. Taking notice of her interest in art, her parents approached a painting school and requested for a home tutor and that’s when things changed for her. “My teacher Koteswara Rao visited my home to tutor me in oil painting. I surprised him with a different process of working on the canvas. Whenever I would find it difficult to reach a point which was at a higher level, I would flip the canvas and paint the “object” in reverse. This worked well for me and there was no looking back. I am inspired by the realistic paintings of S.M. Pandit, Bob Ross and Raja Ravi Varma. I have been associated with the ‘Indian Mouth and Foot Painting Artists’ (IMFPA) for some time now,” she says.
Srilekha has very strong thoughts about life. “One can always ask the government to provide some basic infrastructure facilities for the disabled. But it is very important for each disabled person to always work on their ‘abilities’. The disabled do not need sympathy. Every human has been blessed with talent which has to be discovered and nurtured. ‘How to deal with life’, ‘How to be brave’, How to handle obstacles’ are some of the aspects that I always talk about in my lectures,” advises Srilekha.
— Jaywant Naidu, Musician, Creator of ‘Jaywant Guitar’ and a freelance photographer...