The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stitching together a silent dream

she makes batik, bandhni and applique bags, fabrics, saris and kurtas. She paints, dances and strikes a pose for the cameras with equal ease. The 23-year-old lives in a world of silence, but it’s definitely not devoid of colour. The fact that she is deaf is no obstacle, the sky still remains the limit.

Piyali lost her hearing as a baby of seven months, through a series of illnesses, but hasn’t let that stop her from doing whatever she sets her mind on. She was a keen artist even as a child and her parents developed her talents through classes, encouraging her to take up other arts as well, like sewing.

Mother Protima says: “Piyali has been lucky in the help, love and affection she has received from all who know her. She has always been to regular schools, where the teachers and students willingly helped her adjust. Even now, when she goes to a photo shoot or a ramp show, everyone explains things to her so she has no trouble.”

For ETV’s Shera Sundari and Tara Bangla’s Tara Shundari, the best time in her life was the six years she spent in Santiniketan, before graduating with an art and design degree from Kala Bhavan. She enthusiastically recalls happy memories of the place through sign language, the joy written on her expressive face.

One thing Piyali can clearly enunciate is “Khoob bhalo”, which she says over and over again about Santiniketan, modelling, painting, dancing and travelling. Painting is calming. Dancing she picks up by watching others but that doesn’t stop her from taking the stage. Sewing intricate pictures of cartoon characters causes a headache and a stiff neck because it is so painstaking, but doing appliqué work and making batik bags is “bhalo”.

She admits, though, that since she started modelling earlier this year, there hasn’t been time to spare for other hobbies. She does occasionally sell her work to friends and family, but designing for a boutique, soon, will be the first step to having one of her own some day.

Right now though, modelling is “great fun”, especially the travelling it involves. Piyali’s most recent trip was to Guwahati for a ramp show and some sight seeing. Next on the list is Bhubaneshwar, about which she is “very excited”.

Sometimes, however, Piyali does need a bit of pepping up. She tries to explain that she wants to break the silence, listen to the sounds around, and be able to have a “normal conversation” with friends and family.

Her one dream is to listen to music. And so, Piyali is thrilled about a new surgery to put in an artificial cochlea to restore hearing. Until then, however, she is not one to sit at home and mope.

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