I am a 40-year-old GIS (Geographic Information System) professional with Master's degree from USA and Germany. My specialty lies in providing mapping support for the areas to have basic humanitarian needs in conflict-ridden countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.
In 2016, while I was helping the displaced communities in Iraq to reestablish themselves, I was diagnosed with brain cancer. The critical reality of the disease forced me to leave my job and travel back to India for the treatment.
One of the things that helped me most in this difficult time was seeing the resilience of the people living in conflict-ridden areas.
The monotonous routine of the treatment and having no productive work at all, I was drawn into watching mindless TV shows which affected me negatively. So to keep me occupied and make use of the free time I had, I delved back to my interest in art when I was a kid.
By this time though I had mobility issues because of cancer and it affected my ability to write and draw anything at all, even my name.
Inspiration occurred when I came upon chopsticks lying around and thought I could use it to paint, which is a new technique.
I call it Dot Painting with Chopsticks.
I stated painting simple circles on small canvas boards. As I progressed, improved my painting skills form simple circles to different art forms and bigger canvas boards.
The painting fully engaged me over the next one year and filed my life with positivity and hope about life. I wanted the same to be experienced by other cancer patients and survivors.
So I approached the Indian Cancer Society in December 2017 and narrated them my story and how I came with this idea painting with a chopstick.
Thoroughly impressed by my work, they invited me to Mumbai and conducted a dot painting workshop.
The workshop consisted of 20 cancer patients and survivors from Tata Memorial Hospital who participated on World Cancer Day in 2018.
It was well received by them and we received overwhelming positive feedback. We had people from 8 years age to 35 years in our workshop with less or no painting skills.
I informed ICS that I would like to donate 50 of my paintings which can be used for fundraising for poor cancer patients' treatment.
They organized an informal exhibition of my paintings on their Founders Day on April 14, 2018 at their office in Mumbai.
Surprisingly the people who came for the event showed interest in my paintings that were exhibited and bought all 50 paintings. It raised Rs. 2,48,000/- ($ 3400) for Indian Cancer Society to be used for the treatment of poor cancer patients.
Both the above events inspired me more to continue my paintings as my paintings not only engages me but they are useful for the society at large.
Then I named my paintings as Helping Dots with Chopsticks.
When a glass is half filled with water, rest is filled with air. You can't ask the air to get out of the glass; you have to fill the glass completely with water so there is no room for air.
When someone is going through a lot of hardships during cancer recovery, they will get a lot of negative thoughts and go into depression.
One cannot ask the negative thoughts to get out of ones' life, one needs to fill that space with constructive hobbies or by giving back to society. So there is no room for negative thoughts or depression.
In April 2018, Ex-ATS chief of Mumbai who was getting treated for cancer committed suicide due to depression. We don't want such things to happen for cancer patients and survivors as they face very tough situations.
The brain should be your friend, not the enemy and guide you to move in the right direction.
Art is very therapeutic and can heal many health issues. By adopting painting you can add COLOUR to your life.