“Adversity is a fact of life. It can’t be controlled. What we can control is how we react to it.” …. And who better to know that than renowned artist Manohar Devadoss. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition, Manohar Devadoss’ story is not that of a disgruntled and cynical soul but one of courage, faith, belief and human resilience.

Unfazed by his medical condition, Mr. Devadoss has continued drawing since his diagnosis in 1975 with the same zeal and precision. What makes his drawings even more special are their purpose — proceeds got from the greeting cards bearing his drawings are given to charitable organisations. Sankara Nethralaya is fortunate to be one of those charitable organisations to whom Mr. Devadoss lends his support.

Mr. Devadoss visited Sankara Nethralaya on April 4, 2009 to handover his donation cheque as part of his continued support to the cause of Sankara Nethralaya. In an informal chat with Sampath Kumar, the hospital’s IT head, Mr. Devadoss spoke about his relationship with the hospital and about his Mahima endowment.

A “Friend of Sankara Nethralaya,” Mr. Devadoss says his association with Dr. Badrinath dates back to 1975.   And since then it has grown into a doctor-patient-friend bond which has only strengthened with every passing decade. “Dr. Badri’s personality is magnetic. Vasanthi Amma also became very close to us.  “If I have a vision problem, it was my misfortune. Yet knowing Dr. Badrinath has been a key fortune of my misfortune because if I didn’t have a misfortune, I wouldn’t know Dr. Badrinath,” Mr. Devadoss adds.

The Mahima endowment

The Mahima endowment was started by Mr.Devadoss in the memory of his beloved wife Mahima. Says Mr. Devadoss, “I consulted my wife Mahima about an endowment in her name, when she passes away.  She immediately said: ‘Let our endowment be to Sankara Nethralaya, who cure the blind.’  That’s how the endowments started.”

He adds: “Our own contribution to Sankara Nethralaya is very small but it comes from our heart. It has enriched our life, whatever we have done, even the greeting card. My very first greeting card was about Kancheepuram Maha Periyava. That was the first greeting card we did on a mass scale to Sankara Nethralaya. Then we started doing for other companies like TVS… My best wishes and prayers to Sankara Nethralaya will keep growing.  May Tamil Nadu be the first State to totally eliminate avoidable blindness.”

His wife was more than just a pillar of support to him. In fact to all those who knew her, Mahima Devadoss was an epitome of courage and grace. Courage because despite being a quadriplegic, following a road accident, she never let her disability disable her from living her life and raising funds for charitable organisations. And grace because she faced the trying times with a fountain of optimism and never letting go of her incredible spirit and warm personality.

“My wife Mahima was a talented person winning many gold medals in college days. After her accident, I saw her in a new light.  She accepted the tragedy with grace. And in a positive way.  She sympathized with the lot of blind children.  She always wanted to help people with a vision problem since I had one,” recalls Mr. Devadoss.

“God had denied her so much in life so I want to compensate in my little way. I wrote two books on her and made two portraits of her. I hope this endowment will aid a great institution like Sankara Nethralaya which will bear her name and which will help the poor.”

Life wasn’t exactly a smooth ride for this couple, yet in adversity they mastered the art of giving.

How the endowment keeps going

Mr. Devadoss said “a computer engineer with noble thoughts came to know of the Mahima endowment and towards supporting it, he would regularly buy a greeting card of mine and contribute an equal amount. He regularly does it for the endowment.”

A writer-cum-artist, Mr. Devadoss has left many in awe, not just of his drawings but of his magnanimous personality. Life may have been more a bed of thorns than roses for him, but that hasn’t deterred this unassuming person from pledging unconditional support to a number of charitable organisations. To rise beyond your disability takes courage, unflinching resilience, belief and a mighty heart…and who better to know than Mr. Devadoss.

Hand Drawn Paintings of Mr. Manohar Devadoss to raise funds for Sankara Nethralaya.

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