Beat this: He plays the flute with his nostrils

Visually impaired Brijlal Netham played the flute, but a very bad road accident threatened his very livelihood. He, however, didn’t despair. He learned and mastered a new skill – playing the flute with his nostrils

Tameshwar SinhaTameshwar Sinha   31 July 2019 8:10 AM GMT

Brijlal Netham can't see. For him, his flute is his life – he earns his bread playing it. But after an accident while crossing a road damaged his jawbone, broke his teeth, left him unable to play the wooden instrument and threatened his very livelihood, Netham didn't despair. He learned and mastered a new skill – playing the flute with his nostrils.

"I lost eyesight as a child," says Netham, 45, who hails from Badagaon in the Vishrampuri block of Kondagaon district in Chhattisgarh's Bastar division. "I have been living playing the flute. But after the accident, I found a new skill," he says. Now, be it a local Gondi-Halbi folk song or a Bollywood tune, he can play them with equal elan with his flute.

He, however, finds it difficult to make both ends meet. "Earlier, people would give me money seeing me playing the flute with my nostrils. That used to take care of the household. But, now, no one gives money," he says.

Netham has got no help from the administration, except for the benefit of Pradhan Mantri Gramin Aawaas Yojana (PMGAY) and a pension. "I get a pension of Rs 500. Then, once in a while, I go to village fairs/markets nearby, perform with my flute and manage to get some vegetables home," he says.

According to Netham, politicians and officials are quick to make promises seeing his ability, but they don't keep their words. In October 2017, Netham participated in the Nanaji Deshmukh's birth centenary celebrations at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in Pusa, New Delhi, as a beneficiary of the PMGAY from Bastar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, visiting the exhibition, heard him perform and interacted with him. After the meeting, impressed officers and leaders made many assurances, but none of it has been fulfilled, says Netham.

Netham says a photo of his meeting with the prime minister appeared in the local dailies the next day after which people in his village and nearby regions started recognising him. "Such photos, however, do not fill one's stomach," says Netham.

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