By Bilal Kuchay
A 10-year-old boy suffering from Progeria may be too frail to speak loudly and struggle with a clear diction but that has not stopped him from dreaming of becoming a lead singer.
Shreyas Barmate has been practicing hard for five years learning the nitty-gritty of singing and music in order to fulfill his dream of crooning for Bollywood films.
The boy has even participated in a singing reality show and enthralled judges with his voice.
“I love music and singing. I love singers. Music is my life, it gives me strength and confidence. I wish to playback sing for actors in Hindi movies,” says a buoyant Shreyas.
Shreyas is one of the twin sons born to Arvind, 46, and Manisha Barmate, 39, from Jabalpur, a city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
While their other son Siddhant is a normal and healthy child, Shreyas was diagnosed with Progeria just four months after his birth.
Arvind said: “Both Shreyas and Siddhant looked normal when they were born but it was after three months that Shreyas began getting weaker and weaker and shedding his hair. We were shocked as everything was happening all of a sudden.
“It was only after doctors conducted tests that we came to know that there is a disease called Progeria that our son is suffering from. We hadn’t heard of the disease before and did not know what to do,” he added.
Raising up Shreyas was no mean feat for the couple, who also have a 16-year-old son.
But keeping aside all the difficulties, the parents not only enrolled him to a school with Siddhant to give him a normal upbringing, but also encouraged him to pick up singing as a hobby so to make him happy.
Arvind said: “He is a weak child. He needs help in wearing shoes, can’t tighten or loosen his shoe laces or do any such work where he needs to bend because he can’t bend.
“We want him to study. He is a wonderful student. Initially, we were worried for him but Siddhant is always there for his brother. Though his friends or classmates don’t bully him for his condition but sometimes they pull his cap from his head that makes Shreyas angry.
“He has sparse hair so needs to wear the cap. Sometimes fellow students tease him but his brother always comes for his rescue. Their bond is amazing, they are like friends. He always stands for Shreyas when in need.”
The father, who works as a clerk at the Jabalpur High Court and earns a monthly salary of £360 willfully spends a good chunk on his music classes.
Arvind says: “I do not earn a lot of money and his music classes are an added burden but I want my son to achieve his dreams. Singing gives him happiness and seeing him smiling makes us happy.
“Doctors have told me that this disease is incurable and such kids do not live long, and so we try every bit to always keep him as happy as possible.
“Shreyas is a gifted singer. He cleared his first year of music with over 80 percent marks. He is a very good singer. In fact, to cherish his dream, he also participated in Rising Star- a musical talent show.
“He impressed judges in the first round of the auditions and was selected for the second round. He sang good but couldn’t make it to the second round. But he is not disheartened and is working on his singing prowess. Hopefully he can participate in the show again,” the wishful father signed off.