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“I love to sing and I play the harmonium. I am also good in sports”

Sanjeev Kumar from Patna believes that his only son Shivesh Anand’s yen for music was kindled even before he was born. When his wife Anita Prasad was pregnant, any time she sang or played music the baby would kick. Whether or not his theory is valid, there is no doubt that Shivesh, who is 23 now, has been exceptionally talented in music from his infancy. As Anita puts it, “Music is god’s gift to him.”
The family lived in Deoghar, Jharkhand at the time. When Shivesh was 10 months old he would listen to music cassettes all day long and try humming along to the songs. He was around three-and-a-half when his musical ability came to light at his grandfather’s funeral. Anita recalls: “My father was a very good singer. At his funeral, I asked Shivesh if he wanted to sing as his grandfather loved music. He surprised us all by singing Mohammed Rafi’s ‘Baharo Phool Barsao’ flawlessly!”
It was at the same age that his disability came to light. Shivesh would go to the sand pit in the bank colony (Sanjeev is a public sector bank employee) and just sit there by himself, doing nothing. His parents realised that “something was not right”. Their fears were confirmed when the school in the colony refused to admit the boy; a teacher told them he was a ‘special’ child.
Sanjeev wasted no time in making plans that would be the best for his son. Realising that a bigger city would be better equipped to handle children with special needs, he applied for a transfer and quickly relocated Anita, her mother, and Shivesh to Patna. A doctor there confirmed that Shivesh had mild autism. “He told us to work with Shivesh, identify what he is good at, and support him,” says Sanjeev. He made use of the government policy wherein if you have a disabled child who is dependent on you, you can choose your posting and will not be transferred further.
Shivesh attended a mainstream school till Grade 4 after which he found it hard to cope with STEM subjects. While in school he used to sing on stage for all school functions and during public programmes in the city as well. His parents took him out of school and enrolled him in music classes. They employed a home tutor to teach him English, Hindi and Math. Shivesh took to music like a duck to water; he not only sings but can also play the harmonium. He is currently in his fifth year of studying classical music at Prayag University. Two years ago at the district level music competition he won second place in classical singing and third place in Lok Sangeet. He came first in an online music competition in 2020. “We recently sent his audition tape to the music reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and are waiting to hear back,” Sanjeev told us.
Shivesh’s athletic side emerged quite by chance in 2022. Sanjeev, as the manager of Punjab National Bank, was chatting with a customer who happened to be a bureaucrat. He casually invited him to watch a tournament going on at Patliputra Stadium. There, Sanjeev met Sandeep Kumar who coaches disabled persons at his Academy of Gymnastics (and whose story we featured in EGS). The Academy identified Shivesh’s talent in long jump and cycling and trained him in these sports. “Last year he won the gold medal for long jump in the nationals!” says his proud father. “The Bihar government honoured him and gave him a cash prize of ₹2 lakh. We hope he qualifies for the Para Olympics one day.” Anita offers a typical mother’s appraisal: “Sports has improved his physique. He looks smart and dashing!”
Shivesh wakes up at 5 a.m. to a day packed with sports and music. A music teacher visits twice a week and he attends classes on the other days. He trains at the Academy and is home by 8 p.m. after which he cycles and then goes for a walk. He has set himself a fixed schedule for all his daily activities and is particular about what he wears. He obediently answered our EGS writer’s questions and sang an entire song for her: Kishore Kumar’s “Oh Mere Dil Ke Chain’ from the 1972 movie “Mere Jeevan Saathi’. “Red is my favourite colour,” he said. “I like the rainy season and I love my mother’s paneer curry. My best friend is Raj [an athlete] at the Academy.”
Sanjeev says that Anita’s dedication to Shivesh is a hundred per cent: “If she has to go to the temple and at the same time Shivesh has a performance, she would always choose to take him to the performance.” Anita says he sings everything from Hindi film songs to devotional songs. “My only wish is that his talent is known to the world,” she says. “He is god’s blessing to us and we are very proud of him and his achievements. We will support him every step of the way.”


Vicky Roy