Can’t converse but 14-year-old Benzi expresses herself through music
A heart warming story brought to public knowledge by Medha Chaturvedi TNN
New Delhi: She’s only 14. But Benzy — named after a rare flower in Brazil which blooms once in 20 years — has already won two national awards for her music skills and even made it to the Limca Book of World Records. This ‘‘special’’ girl cannot carry out a conversation with you due to a brain condition, but when it comes to music, she can promptly pick up words and tunes and play them on her synthesiser — with only one hand though, as her left side does not work in coordination with the right.
According to Benzi’s mother, Kavita Kumar, ‘‘As a child, Benzy could not even move in her crib like other kids, let alone sit or stand. Doctors said that the right side of her brain was damaged, affecting fine motor movement on the left side of her body. We were told she can never be normal.’’
Kavita, however, did not give up. ‘‘We noticed that Benzy did not react to anything that we brought for her, except musical toys. That’s when we realised that this part of of her brain was still functional. She loved watching music channels and could even memorise the songs.’’
Her family tool Benzy to Spastic Society of Mumbai for a probable cure. ‘‘They could only give us a set of stimulation excercises for the nerves, which did nothing for her brain, but helped her tremendously in physical movement like turning on the bed,’’ said Kavita, a resident of East of Kailash.
It was at the age of four that Kavita decided to get a music teacher, Muhammed Rafi, for Benzy. ‘‘He was an 80-year-old man, and after two-years, got very frustrated as she refused to listen to him. But after we explained how important the lessons were for her, he coached her for another four years. After that she sang Raag Yaman at a competition organised by Triveni Kala Mandir and won the first prize,’’ said Kavita.
That was just the beginning. When Benzy turned nine, her parents got a cassette recorded by her, called Basic Raaga, which was on the nuances of classical music. ‘‘Benzy didn’t know what retakes were all about and sang all nine raagas for the cassette at one go,’’ said the proud mother.
Kavita sent this cassette to several musicians across country, but only Shubha Mudgal responded, saying that the child had immense potential. ‘‘It was due to her encouragement and kind words that we decided to train Benzy for music. We owe her a lot and consider her a mentor of sorts to Benzy,’’ said Kavita. Her second album, Koshish, was released by her favourite hero Hrithik Roshan in 2004. ‘‘Benzy never allowed me and my husband to watch a single movie in peace, but she was all attention while watching ‘Kaho Na Pyar Hai’. She even memorised all the songs. She now prefers to be called Amisha at home,’’ said Kavita.
Benzy won a national award for ‘Koshish’ and another for her next album, Shakti, which was an instrumental, in 2006. Her other awards included a president’s commendation card and Karamveer award by a social organisation. She made it to the Limca Book of World Records the same year as the first special child to have cut an album.
But all this has not been easy. ‘‘My husband had to take a transfer to Delhi as it opened up more avenues for Benzy. All that seems worthwhile now since our child is happy,’’ said Kavita.
The girl now studies in Lakshman Public School in standard 5 (special), which is equivalent to class II for other children, and is just a step away from being an MA in music.