“If there’s one moment that has truly changed my life, it’s the time I watched a peer beatbox, back in eighth grade. Thoroughly intrigued by every aspect of the skill, I started pushing myself to learn it well, though my days were already jam-packed. I mean, that’s how the shackles of poverty work, right? They’re heavy and are not known to spare even the youngest members of a family.
Now, being with an alcoholic father and a mother who made her children the center of her universe, one can imagine the struggles we faced in trying to lead a ‘normal life. The hardships were such that even after working in multiple homes as a house help, my mother wasn’t able to make enough money and it weighed us down so much that I knew I had to start contributing immediately. And the best option I had at the age of eight was to start delivering newspapers in my locality.
My education again, had its own trajectory. I was put into a Tamil-medium school in Bangalore till the fifth grade before being asked to start all over again in an English medium institution. I still have vivid memories of being the tallest student amongst my new classmates, since everyone there was at least four years younger than me.
Nevertheless, I’m still grateful for that specific transition, for it was English as a business language that helped me bag my part-time jobs subsequently. At a point, I was working two side jobs, morning and night alongside my education to fend for my family. And here’s where I believe beatboxing came to my rescue.
My liking for it got me to practice at every given opportunity- whether it was in the middle of a food-delivery or even in class. And gradually, from being a complete stranger to the art, I saw myself enrolling in fests and gathering the courage to go on stage. Knowing English, again came as a huge boon! But the journey from then to now being one of India’s top performers didn’t come without its fair share of hurdles. There were times when I was even asked to step down from performing, with my snide remarks on my background. “Nowadays, even local guys started beatboxing” was one particular line that left a deep scar and I guess motivated me too simultaneously, to prove every naysayer wrong!
The journey to becoming one of India’s top beatboxers was no ordinary feat, especially considering the status-centric humiliation I’d to go through at every step. Right from my initial years, there were times, when I was asked to get off of stage with snide remarks thrown at my background. Some peers were even audacious enough to comment that the art was too fancy for some ‘local’ like me.
It was, of course, hurtful and my immediate response was to shed a quiet tear but somewhere amidst all the dejection, there was also a fire, burning to prove everybody wrong. So I started enrolling in fests in colleges across South India, using a portion of my part-time money. It was indeed a long shot considering I’d to give a part of the earnings to my family, but winning also meant increased prize money.
So I took my chances and travelled to other cities, and even lost in some but never gave up. There were other instances when I’d require the winning amount to fend for my conveyance and had to travel in unreserved berths with a lot of fear whenever I wasn’t able to win; all of it became an integral part of my learning curve.
And if there’s one thing that all those experiences have taught me, it was never to give up. So despite the struggles, I kept on going, and slowly started bagging medals. From miserable flops, my path developed, enabling me to become the best at my craft; so much so that the colleges that formerly refrained me from performing called me back to judge the same event the next year.
Even in terms of a job, it was beatboxing that launched me to work alongside celebrities like Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo. They recognized me through my previous performances and offered me a job in their other side-ventures. Nevertheless, with situations changing for the better, I guess the one proudest one of the lot was my mother.
Likewise, I also feel most satisfied whenever she glares at my achievements with a smile. I guess all her years of hustle in raising me have now found meaning and all I’d want, going forward is to excel in the art and add value to her sacrifices!”