May 12, 2021

A true inspiration – Ujwala speaks on her daughter Prerana a speech & hearing impaired Bharatnatyam dancer

Mums and stories, shares another inspirational story from a mum, Ujjwala Sahane from Pune, India. This mum has made the impossible almost invisible in her life.

This is a special story of a special artiste,  Prerana Sahane Dixit.,
Ujjwala Sahane talks of her Prerana; her daughter, a speech and hearing impaired individual and an accomplished Bhartnatyam dancer. Ujjwala has also written a book dedicated to her daughter, Prerana: Sounds of Silence.

“We originally hail from Sangamner in Maharashtra. We had our child years ago in 1985 and everything seemed great until she turned six months and had a paralytic attack. The incident made her hearing impaired. My husband, Keshav Sahane and myself were teachers by profession and this incident with subsequent medications, stress along with economical reasons took a toll on us. Slowly we also realized she was weak in terms of her legs not having the strength to even walk. The paralytic attack had immobilized her neck downwards and she had lost her motor co-ordination skills. Due to her hearing impairment she didn’t learn to speak much too.

We had even contemplated suicide as our only child was not able to hear or speak or do much else. Then my sister Vandana, who is a doctor, thankfully spoke to us over the matter and asked me to do a speech and hearing impaired training course to teach my daughter. With luck on our side, she got better with Ayurvedic medicines, prayers and I think our determination to move ahead in life.

Until then Priyanka, the baby we had named, we renamed her as Prerana. By three years of age, Prerana had begun to walk too. A miracle had occurred in our lives.

Prerana means inspiration. Whenever we said the name, it reminded us to be inspired and motivated us to do better for the child. We had decided that we cannot give her the ability to speak or hear but there is much more in the world for her to learn and acquire. We wanted her to love nature, love life and love herself. I must add, without my husband I wouldn’t have been to encourage Prerana.

Earlier, whenever I would take my daughter to learn a new skill like painting or anything else, the teachers would say it will not be possible to teach a speech and hearing impaired child. Today she paints well too.

It was one of those incidents where a student of mine invited me to her Bhartnatyam performance. So we went there and were amazed to see the dance performed beautifully. We later approached her teacher Shumita Mahajan and asked her if she can teach our child.

We had got used to rejections so we had expected to be shown the door. But to our surprise, Shumita Mahajan, the Bharatnatyam teacher agreed and Prerana perhaps received a new breath of life which was important for her and us.”

Ujjwala says the teacher does mention now that one glance at Prerana made her decide to teach her the dance form.

“However, it was not until one incident where Prerana was able to better herself with the guru’s training at Sadhana Nrityalaya. Her training was slow and perhaps it required time too. But in one such instance all the rest of the students were not able to perform what Shumitaji had taught. Prerana stood up to communicate to her teacher that she could perform what had been taught. Perhaps her ability to learn and grasp those movements made Shumita Mahajan more determined and ambitious for this student. Since then Prerana has performed on all difficult movements as the teacher did not want her speech and hearing impairment to be an excuse. ”

Prerana over the years has learnt lip reading and has performed on many occasions. The determined dancer gave her arangetaram in 2007 and has since received several prestigious awards. Prerana while performing relies on eye contact and on special lighting arrangements.

Ujjwala wants to voice her concern on the society to be open minded to all children. She also wants more opportunities for Prerana who is as accomplished as any of the noted Bhartanaytam dancers. Ujjwala also adds, “No matter what your problem may be, minor or major one, do not think of ‘giving up’. We have been in that boat, but we crossed on to the shore quickly because we were determined.”

Prerana is soon going to be receiving her National award in New Delhi in December 2015.

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