For Chetan Uchitkar, story telling through music is a way of life. The 12-year-old, who cannot see, has been spreading awareness about eye donation and other social causes through songs and narration. Chetan, along with other members of Chetan Sevankur Orchestra of Blind Children; travel all over Maharashtra with their messages.
“I am surrounded by darkness, but I haven’t let this affect my life. Hardships should not affect our positivity. That is why I motivate people by spreading social messages through my performances. Eye donation is one of the key messages which we spread,” said the resident of Washim, a district in Maharashtra.
Chetan can sing 36 ragas from Indian Classical music and can play 2,500 tunes on the keyboard. He has been spreading awareness about eye donation through storytelling from the time he was six. He learnt the art of storytelling from his grandmother, who used to narrate mythological stories to him. He began taking lessons in Classical music from Praveen Kanthale, who is also blind since birth.
With Chetan gaining expertise in music, Chetan Sevankur Orchestra begun taking shape and today it has nine members, all of them are visually impaired. “Music unites us and it has the strength to change people’s minds. We address several social issues through our performances. We appeal to farmers not to commit suicide and request people to let girls live as they are our future. We have three girls in our group,” he said.
A student in eighth standard, Chetan keeps himself updated with the latest news by listening to radio throughout the day. But music, he says, is his passion. He does riyaaz with his group for six hours every day.
The Uchitkars have made a big happy family with all the members of Chetan’s orchestra. “We have adopted all the members of Chetan’s orchestra. They all live with us. Since they cannot move around freely, they channelise their energies into music. This is the purpose of their lives,” said Pandurang, Chetan’s father.
“Chetan is an inspiration for all of us,” said Dr Avinash Sawoji Director of Prayas Organization based in Amravati. “Despite being blind, he is aware of many social problems which a lot of us with sight ignore. He has a strong memory, sharp grasping power and sensitivity towards the society. I remember meeting him at Sevankur Little Champs, a programme held by our organisation, in 2011. He mesmerised everyone and was the centre of attraction,” he added.
Chetan, meanwhile, said it is very important for everyone to stay positive in life. “I have never let my morale go down. There is no point losing hope in life. There is nothing that a human being cannot do. I try to motivate people through music and stories to spread hope and happiness and make the society a better place to live in,” he said.