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A visionary for the visionless

A visionary for the visionless
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'The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.' These words of Helen Keller ring...

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." These words of Helen Keller ring in the ears when one meets Muralidhar, a visually challenged journalist with a great vision for those like him! L Shailaja Kumar He made a humble beginning as a typist in AP Vikalangula Cooperative Corporation on September 5, 1984, and now heads the Braille Printing Press at Malakpet and is also the manager in-charge. It was his sheer grit and tenacity which won him the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from Helen Keller Institute for Handicapped in Secunderabad in December 2011.
blind
Today, as Muralidhar recalls his interesting sojourn sitting in Editor's chair of the Braille Press, APVCC, Malakpet he says life has been too kind and co-operative so far. Apart from service to the visually impaired, his passion continues to be forging new relationships, reiterating his faith in mankind. It's hard to escape his infectious and nonchalant attitude of 'dare to dream first and then see how to make it happen'. Who says only those with vision can dream??!! In a freewheeling chat with Sunday Han, he animatedly shares his experiences and ecstatic moments of his life, how journalism allowed him to meet stalwarts like Ravuri Bharadwaj, Dr C Narayan Reddy and Mother Theresa. He chronicles these experiences deep in his heart which made him what he is today. Above all he seems thoroughly excited to share his brilliant vision for the visually impaired.
How did your tryst with journalism happen?
After having done Post Graduation in History in 1982, it's the passion for writing which made me pursue journalism. Since I did not have the privilege of reading works of great writers like Chalam, Ravuri Bharadwaj and Dr C Narayan Reddy, I used to have 'hearing boards' with them where they would share beautiful experiences of making a book. This inspired me to write. Once I got the taste of writing I landed as editor of the magazine 'Sphoorthi', a Braille magazine for the visually impaired. This was a quarterly which was well received. But unfortunately, the publication stopped quite some time back.
How did you get this idea to 'step out' and socialise while the usual understanding is that physically challenged ones are generally less socialising?
I don't quite agree with that, because I was an extrovert right from the beginning and always knew how to convert any handicap into an advantage! Usually people always had a soft corner for me and were willing to listen to me, when I have something genuine to share. I always went by my heart. For example, though I was a History student I often used to run to Cinare's (Dr C Narayan Reddy) classes during my college days and he would fondly chide but encourage me. That was how I used to follow my instincts and give the best shot to anything I took up. When people recognise this they come forward to help me.
How was your meeting with Mother Theresa?
It happened like a dream! I was In Kolkata for some work and I just called up the mother's home , I was lucky enough as she picked the call �those were the days of landline phones only--and I expressed my wish to meet her. When she asked why, I said since I am visually challenged and I would like to do something for my blind brothers and sisters I need her help. She liked my answer and within few hours I was before her. She recommended me to become a member of Rajyasabha, though things hadn't worked out then I still hold the vision very close to my heart as it would help me serve the needy.
What genre of writing fascinates you the most?
Smriti Kaavyam or elegy has special place in my heart�these writings reminisce the loss of loved ones, and are odes from beloved to them. After reading Ravuri Bharadwaj garu's elegies on his wife Kaantamma, my adoration for them multiplied! What is your vision for the visually impaired? I would request the government or any capable body to come forward and start good corporate schools for the visually impaired, as I feel there isn't dearth of intelligence or diligence in the visually challenged ones. This would open up wonderful opportunities for them and create a healthy society!
How do you think you can accomplish your dream? Isn't it far-fetched?
As I said I always dream first and work towards it. There are many people who want to reach out and many more who need help, it's all about finding the right 'connections', if I am able to do that I consider myself blessed! What is your family's contribution? My wife is my perennial source of inspiration and support, being physically challenged herself, she never expressed any moments of despair or disappointment. We have two lovely daughters, one pursuing engineering and the other on the way to same. They are extremely hardworking kids.
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