Anjana, a 38-year-old woman, sits daily at a nondescript corner along the Ganges in Rishikesh. Things are not easy for her to sit at a corner and do her work. Stray dogs nibble at her stationery and stench of garbage makes the surrounding unbearable. Despite all the pain, the 38-year-old continues to sketch on a sheet of paper with deep concentration and true passion and determination.
This may seem like the story of any roadside artist, however, Anjana’s case is different. She doesn’t have arms and one of her legs is half the length of the other, thus compelling her to squat in order to walk. Every day, for over a year, she has been travelling for 6 km to occupy a place along the river and showcase her paintings that she creates deftly with her right foot.
Anjana’s association with art started a year back when she tried to write ‘ram naam’ on pieces of paper with a pen clasped between her toes. Inspired by her talent, a foreign tourist bought her drawing materials and encouraged her to channel her innate talent. Over the next few months, Anjana undertook relentless efforts to perfect her art and eventually started selling her paintings. Now, art has become her source of income for her earnings help run a family of five.
Milaap, a fundraised website, has put out an appeal so that Anjana gets the basic things she requires to lead a better life. According to the website, Anjana is the sole breadwinner of the family. Her brother is paralysed and it is her earnings, which is spent on food, clothing, medicines, school fees and room rent.
“Anjana’s story is one of inspiration. True to her name – meaning the mother of Lord Hanuman – Anjana has won over numerous physical and financial challenges and remained strong in the face of hardship. Anjana is determined to provide a better quality of life to her family through her creativity. However, one must realize that her source of income is not steady. Although kind tourists and passersby at times buy her painting equipment, but how will she invest in paper and paints when the inflow of tourists reduces drastically? What will she do when her paintings remain unsold? How will she tide over the crisis of her paintings being washed away in the rains? Will her family go hungry,” reads the website.
“Anjana is striving every day to do the best she can for her family. Now, it is our turn to assist Anjana in whichever way possible and transform her dream into reality,” appeals the website.
Here’s a few paintings made by Anjana: