Kannur: The year was 2001. A one-year-old girl sat bewildered on the long corridor of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College. Beside her lay the lifeless body of her mother.
Radhakrishnan held the child close to his heart. He and his wife Lekha took her home.
Cut to 2017. Radhakrishnan was among the audience to watch the Kerala Natanam contest in progress at the State School Arts Festival in Kannur on Monday. He could not hold back his tears when the 159th participant walked onto the stage at the Police Ground. It was the same child.
Anargha would have been left abandoned after her father and mother committed suicide within a span of one year. Radhakrishnan had gone to the hospital on hearing the news of the death of her sister, Indira Kumari. He saw his niece crying beside the body of her mother.
Lekha asked Radhakrishnan to carry the child home. The couple raised the child along with their six-month-old daughter. Anargha became the elder sister of Akshaya and later Ardra.
Anargha walked with a spring in her steps and her foster parents were quick to realize it. The little girl would be dancing her way to the play school. Radhakrishnan and Lekha wanted to give her the best. She was trained in classical dance right from her sixth standard in school.
Radhakrishnan, an auto rickshaw driver at Nalanchira in Thiruvananthapuram, struggled to give his daughter the best training she could get. Help came in the form of Ajayan Peyad, a dance teacher who offered to coach Anargha free of cost. Ajayan was instrumental in helping the girl reach the school arts festival.
Anargha had been selected for Manorama's Nalla Padhom scholarship after her performance was noted in last year’s school arts festival.
She participated in Kuchipudi and Kerala Natanam contests in the district level arts festival this time but did not make it to the top. She wrote to the chief minister, alleging discrepancies in the evaluation of performances. The chief minister asked the director of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau to monitor the evaluation process of the arts festivals.
Anargha managed to reach Kannur after getting permission through the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights on the eve of the festival.