Chal­lenged, but only by my art

Nadeem Shaikh was born with­out arms but that hasn’t stopped him learn­ing to paint with his right foot. His art has been ex­hib­ited and used on greet­ing cards, cal­en­dars and bags. Suhit Kelkar meets him

Friday - - The Leisure Charts -

Nadeem Shaikh deftly opens a tube of poster paint and squeezes out a smidgen of turquoise blue on to a palette. Next to it, he adds a dol­lop of aqua­ma­rine and ex­pertly mixes the two colours to get just the right shade. Smil­ing, he picks up his paint brush and be­gins cre­at­ing a piece of art, us­ing bold strokes on a large sheet of pa­per in front of him. Within min­utes a strik­ing im­age of a par­adise is­land com­plete with sway­ing palms and golden sands emerges.

Nadeem, 19, leans back to study his work and nods his head, sat­is­fied. It mayy not be a mas­ter­piece but what sets this artist apart is that he paints with his toess as he was born with­out arms. Since he be­gan paint­ing when he was nine years old, he has pro­duced star­tling works, many of which have been re­pro­duced on greet­ing cards, cal­en­dars and book­marks,s, They are sold by the In­dian Mouth and Foot Paint­ing Artists (IMFPA), a chap­ter of the in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion that trainss and sup­ports phys­i­cally chal­lenged artists.s.

Sit­ting on the floor of the one-room shanty in north Mum­bai that he shares with his mother, two sis­ters and two broth­ers, the young artist deftly opens his flip-top mo­bile phone with his toes to show more of his paint­ings. Along with scenic pic­tures, there are im­pres­sivee por­traits of Bol­ly­wood stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan.

“I love paint­ing and am hop­ing to make this my ca­reer,’’ Nadeem smiles.

See­ing his paint­ings, sev­eral of which have been dis­played in exhibitions or­gan­ised by IMFPA, it’s hard to be­lieve he’s done them all with his feet. “De­pend­ing on the com­plex­ity of the work, I can com­plete a paint­ing in a day,” he says.

Nadeem’s con­di­tion is called amelia, in which an in­di­vid­ual is born with­out limbs or they are only par­tially de­vel­oped. In Nadeem’s case, he has only stubs at the shoul­ders. His doc­tors sus­pect it could be the re­sult of a ge­netic mu­ta­tion or a bac­te­rial or vi­ral in­fec­tion he con­tracted while in the womb. None of his sib­lings or par­ents have the con­di­tion.

Nadeem says he’s re­lieved that he doesn’t have the worst de­gree of amelia – te­tra-amelia, where ba­bies are born with no limbs.

His par­ents were ini­tially wor­ried about him, but he eas­ily adapted, learn­ing to brush

Nadeem learnt to paint at shool and dreams of mak­ing it big in the art world

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