When his friends were typically into outdoor games, Abhijith Shaji found joy in assisting his father as a goldsmith. As for Sathya Udayan, she too is passionate about taking up her mother’s career; beauty therapy.
The 13-year-old boy from Idukki district and the fifth-standard girl from neighbouring Pathanamthitta are today busy proving their competence in the chosen fields at the ongoing India Skills Kerala 2020 in this city. Their brilliance and dexterity enabled the two contestants to take part at the February 22-24 state-level round of the government-organised event, featuring a total of 253 participants in 39 disciplines.
At the India Skills Kerala venue in Swapna Nagari here, Abhijith recalls that he, as a toddler, was drawn to his father’s workplace in their house near hilly Thodupuzha. “As a child, I was fascinated by the way gold and silver would take various enchanting shapes,” says the boy, hailing from scenic Thommankuthu along the southern part of the Western Ghats. “That kindled in me an interest to join my father in what little ways.”
The Shaji-Bindu couple was pleased with the interest shown by the boy. “Soon we noticed the kid has talent,” says Shaji, about Abhjijith, who is now a class-8 student at St Joseph’s School in Karimannoor. We began encouraging him.”
At his school, though, few knew about the boy’s eminence till he excelled in the zonal round of India Skills Kerala earlier this month. At this stage, his teachers too began giving support to Abhijith, who has an elder sister, Krishna Priya, who is good at polishing metal jewellery, more so ear-rings.
At the ongoing state-level India Skills Kerala 2020, being held by the Industrial Training Department and Kerala Academy for Skills Excellence (both under the Labour and Skills Department), 11-year-old Sathya is proving to be a cynosure of all eyes at the beauty therapy competition.
The class-5 student is giving a tough challenge to candidates who are far senior and with longer years of experience in the discipline. Sathya, interestingly, has just three years of familiarity in the skill in which she is vying for a prize.
The girl was eight years old when her mother, a beautician, began to take her to weddings on assignments. It was only last year that the mom, Ambily Udayan, began to notice the girl’s talent.
As some of her customers, too, started encouraging Sathya, the school student was initiated into the nuances of the skill. “Ten of them came forward to ensure Sathya got training. I, alongside teaching Sathya hair-dressing and beauty-enhancement skills, made it a point to take her to the weddings for which I would go as a beautician,” says Ambily, whose husband Udayakumar P S is a contractor Sathya, with her elder sister Bhama and parents, lives in Pandalam, where she is a student at the NSS School.
It was only days ahead of the India Skills Kerala that the family got to know about the preliminary stage of the event. “We still could participate in the early rounds at Kazhakkoottam (near Thiruvananthapuram) and Ernakulam,” reveals Udaya Kumar. “We got good encouragement and cooperation from Sathya’s teachers at the school as well.”
Of late, Sathya has been assisting her mother at her beauty parlour. “My friends know about my skills,” the girl chuckles. “It’s another matter none of them has tested it with my hands.”
The winners at the competitions will get Rs 1,00,000 each as prize money, and runners up Rs 50,000. The subsequent four finalists get Rs 10,000 each.
The state-level winners will qualify for the national competitions. The prize-winning performers in that round will represent the country at World Skills 2021 in Shanghai, China.