It is a beautiful voice that has taken a 12-year struggle to perfect. T.A. Kiran, a 24-year-old musician, is all set to give his maiden Carnatic music performance in Thrissur, a city that has fostered classical music, at the Chetana Music College on Saturday.
It is an unusual concert, because Kiran has battled visual impairment and 65% disability, encouraged by his mother Sajitha. He graduated in music from Madras University, memorising lessons and writing examinations with the help of scribes.
Kiran’s challenge began when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a toddler. “He was visually impaired and couldn’t utter a word. He was unable to lift his hands or legs. Epileptic attacks were frequent,” says Ms. Sajitha.
Doctors were clear that he would need prolonged physiotherapy. As a child, Kiran would cry a lot, and his mother calmed him down with music. Later, he attended ‘Reach Swasraya’, a special school at Kuttor in Thrissur, till he was 14. He practised light music and won prizes at State-level competitions.
When Kiran completed Class VII, Ms. Sajitha sent him to Government Model Boys High School, Thrissur, where he completed Plus Two. Learning with normal students had a positive impact: he won prizes in music contests.
His big moment came when he joined Chetana Music College for a BA in music. He was the only special student. “Though he was good at melody, learning Carnatic music was a bit difficult,” says Fr. Paul Poovathingal, Principal.
“In Carnatic music, one has to maintain taalam , or rhythm, using the hand, along with singing. Coordination of two activities is difficult for those with cerebral palsy. Kiran, had to memorise his lessons [due to visual disability]. It improved his memory and ability to reproduce. He had sharp listening capacity too,” he recalls.
“Singing improves breathing. Thus oxygen supply increases, strengthening the nervous system,” notes Fr. Poovathingal, who specialises in vocology, a system of rehabilitation.
Kiran is looking ahead. “I want a Ph.D in music and a government job. Marriage is also on my mind,” he says.