“When Passion meets Suffering”— Excerpts from the talk by Padma Shri Mr. Manohar Devadoss
Passionate people are always focused on ‘what can be’ rather than ‘what is’.
Doing great things in spite of a lot of obstacles is not so easy. That too husband and wife pampering each other for their passion in their difficult situations is not so common.
This blog is about the veteran artist, writer, and storyteller Mr. Manohar Devadoss, lovingly called Mano uncle. He was awarded the Padma Shri for a lifetime of achievement in Art.
Kissflow arranged an inspiring lecture during G2G (Good to Great) our weekly org-wide get-together on Oct 16 where Mano uncle shared his story of how his loss of vision, deep affection for his wife, and the kindness of strangers inspired a lifetime of art.
He took us through his journey of art, sketch by sketch, all of them inspired by Love, History, Society, and Culture.
- Mano uncle was born in 1936 at Goripalayam, Madurai. He started sketching at the age of 3! Till around the age of 7, he was fond of sketching animals. Later, his interests went towards drawing bikes, trucks & trains.
- In high school, his interests changed to sarees and girls. Having no sisters or anyone to teach him about sarees, he still has drawn a lot of precise pictures convincingly.
- While studying at Madurai’s American college, he spent most of his time in the library with books on advanced Chemistry. That grew his interest to become a professor in his future. But life had a different plan. His father passed away, and Mano uncle had to shoulder the financial responsibilities of the family and took up a factory job in a chemical company. Even though his actual dream of becoming a professor didn’t come true, he said to himself, “If this is the lot given to me let me do my very best”. Mano uncle‘s extraordinary creativity in his job was liked even by his British bosses. One important product he got involved in was manufacturing a modern electric safety cap lamp used by Miners in 1950s. Replacing this new tech instead of old Davis safety flame lamps eased the work of Miners at a great stretch. His immense talent gave him the opportunity to visit London and learn furthermore about cap lamps for 3 months.
And here comes the important stage of his life. Being a foreign-returned young guy, Mano uncle was in high demand while looking for a marriage alliance. He got to know about Maheema as his wife-to-be via one of his cousins. Maheema was a gold medalist, could drive a car, her mind being a mini library, had a keen sense of humor, and a giving heart.
- Before getting married Mano uncle presented a lot of sketches and letters to Maheema as a way of expressing his love.
- When Maheema’s uncle joked saying “Are we going to marry her to a KAATTAN?” (The Word KAATTAN in Tamil means a local rough guy). Mano uncle responded in a positive way and won that controversy with his art.
When adversities come, instead of reacting negatively do something positive to WIN the situation and endure the adversarial person as well.
Maheema and Mano uncle were married and life was full of creativity and joyful moments. Mano uncle created this impressive oil painting of a longboat.
Destiny challenged them. Maheema met with a car accident and became a quadriplegic. After that Mano uncle took care of Maheema as best as he could, which led Maheema to live 26 years of active life after that incident!
But then destiny was not satisfied. Within 2 years of the accident, Mano uncle started losing his eyesight. Mano uncle decided to do as many artworks as he could before losing his eyesight completely. Parallelly Maheema would read books sitting aside Mano uncle while he does his artwork. Mano uncle took this stage all with courage positively telling that,
“Bond of affection between me and Maheema was so strong and close than before as she was sitting next to me reading a number of books…”
Mano uncle didn’t stop. He wrote amazing books with beautiful illustrations along with his artworks which made him very happy. He practiced the art of giving as passionately. He conducted an art exhibition and donated the money earned to charities and Sankara Nethralaya. Inspite of being through all these tough journeys, he also managed to give the best life to his daughter.
As a GREAT better-half to his wife, Mano uncle designed the wheelchair in a way that it can be used to go over all ups and downs in staircases of museums which Maheema wished to see! He wrote two books about Maheema — “Dreams, Seasons & Promises” and “A Poem to Courage”.
In 2008, Maheema passed away peacefully in her sleep. She donated her eyes to Sankara Nethralaya so she was able to pursue the art of giving even after she passed away. While listening to his speech at that minute, I felt “How beautiful life can be lived!”.
This peacock artwork proves how strong and passionate he is. Because he did this at a stage when he couldn't recognize the colors with his eyes!
Beating all odds, striving for what you believe in with true love is what a beautiful life is about.
After this speech, most of us from Kissflow dwelled into a deep silence. We really felt grateful to Mano uncle for sharing his life-history, love-story, passion-hungry, and generous to society.
If you want to listen to his full speech, check out the video I linked at the beginning of this post.
Last but not the least, I thank the Kissflow team, for arranging such a wonderful session!!