A mother gives a new lease of life to her autistic daughter through music

Common to have heard the phrase “music is a healer”. But here is an achiever mother who is happy that she has proved it in the case of her daughter, who as a one-month-old was predicted to lead the life of a vegetable. Because, today though 21-year-old Benzy speaks like a person with autism, she sings like a trained playback singer.

Meningitis turned a few-days-old Benzy into a differently abled child with partial paralysis and autism. It did not take much for the parents to realise that their first-born was not going to be the typical baby till Kavita Kumar found that her 6-month-old daughter’s eyes followed the portable tape recorder when it was shifted from one place to another.

The mother, trained in classical music, used to play the tape recorder in whichever room Benzy used to be in. When she realised that it was something that made her “dead-like” daughter react after six months, the tape recorder became a life support system that the mother carried around.

“All her movements, though very slow, had an impact with the sound from the tape recorder. I played separate ragas for every activity – eating, bathing, and even while sleeping so that it could work on her sub-conscious levels. I had heard music had healing properties, so I thought why not try our own classical music,” Ms. Kumar says. Benzy’s initiation into music began at that tender age.

And, listening to Benzy croon Hindi movie numbers will make terming “music a healer” an understatement. According to Ms. Kumar, the “sa, re, ga, ma, pa” changed the life of her daughter.

Three-year-old Benzy’s guru Mohammed Rafi took three years to get the first response from his pupil. From her seventh birthday Benzy started doing ‘riyaz’ everyday, an hour in the morning and another in the evening.

A meeting with Hrithik Roshan after watching his movie “Kaho Na Pyaar Hai” in her 11th year made her switch over to film songs. And, there has been no looking back ever since – stage performances, burning CDs – she is leading the life of any ‘normal’ singer.

“Twenty years of my life I have given to her and Indian music has been the only medicine I have used” says her proud mother.

She dreads to think of a Benzy sans music because a day without music makes her “irritable and restless”. Music is her soul and has given her this personality.

A recipient of numerous awards, Benzy has become a full-fledged teacher – albeit without realising it – at the learning centre her mother has started for differently abled children.

But she does not understand awards and her most valuable “prizey” is the colourfully wrapped bouquet she receives after each performance.