Published: 06th May 2017
Rappin’ and ‘rolling’ on the world’s stage: How Shek Monu ignored his amputation and went ahead to become an inspirational rapper
Shek Monu lost a hand and both his legs a decade ago. Now, the Hyderabad-based student is living his dream and rapping on stage
The year was 2006.
It's a day that 7-year-old Shek Attaullah will never forget.
Life-altering events can have that effect.
He was flying a kite on the terrace of his house in Hyderabad. Looking up at the blue sky he saw his colourful kite arcing through the clouds, soaring higher and higher every time the wind turned.
As he kept looking skyward, focussed on his kite, little Attaullah who was standing in a pool of water touched a live electric wire with his hands. The electric shock pulsed through his lithe body and burned the second grader's legs and right arm. By the time people heard his screams and managed to get the wire away from him, the damage was so severe that people thought there was a slim-to-none possibility that he would make it out alive.
His parents rushed him to the hospital and doctors began the task of trying to save the little boy's life. Almost immediately, they had good news and bad news. The good news was that he would live. The bad news was that their only option was to amputate Attaullah's burned limbs. Unwillingly, his parents agreed, life before limb is the sensibility after all..
After spending two months in the hospital, he went back to school. Except, he wasn't running, walking or limping his way there. He was in a wheelchair.
Then and now
Cut to 2017.
Understandably, his rap draws a lot from his own life, as his lines suggest:
Aaya jab se industry mein rap dekho mere
Jahabhi mein jau vaha logo ka ghera
Jaisey raat key baad dekho hota savera
Vairiyanke dilo mein, mere rap ka andhera
(Since I came to the industry
Whenever I rap I’m surrounded by people
The way you see dawn after the night
My rap brings darkness in the enemy’s heart)
"I'd been listening to hip-hop and rap since class X. They have this ability to cool me down whenever I'm tense," says Monu, who has been performing in Hyderabad for the past four years. Inspired by Bohemia's rap and poetry, he started writing his own rap lyrics in Hindi and English. "I rap about life and how I overcame my struggles, just the way Bohemia does. He is my favourite rapper," he says.
He first got on stage when he was in class XI. Admittedly, he says his first performance wasn't that great, but he made it up with his next show. This 18-year-old has performed on around 10 stages so far. "I don't even need a mic. Rapping is a part of my life now," he says.
A second-year B Com student at St Mary's College, Hyderabad, he beams with positivity as he speaks about his life. "Even after the accident, I never felt anything was different because whatever happened was not my fault. So I don't have to be ashamed of it. Let the past be the past; the future is still in my hand," says the rapper.
Even though he says that he hasn’t missed much, he admits that he would spend hours watching the other kids play sports, knowing that he wouldn't be able to do that. But on the other hand, he developed a deep sense of appreciation for his pillars of strength — his parents, teachers and friends — who helped him throughout. "My parents ensured that I was never depressed. They would always tell me to be happy. When I was a kid, my father would drop me at school. Now my friends have taken charge. In college, I move around in my wheelchair," he says confidently.
Wheels on fire
Currently, Monu has a basic wheelchair that isn’t the most portable one and can only be used indoors. But a month ago, he came upon an electronic wheelchair. "I love the wheelchair and I would like to buy it. It would help me move around with more ease — roads or rugged surfaces, it wouldn’t matter. Unfortunately, it’s expensive and I can’t afford it," says Monu. In the day and age of crowdfunding, he turned to Milaap and started a campaign to raise money to buy the electric wheelchair that would help him achieve his dreams.
Even after the accident, I never felt anything was different because whatever happened was not my fault. So I don’t have to be ashamed of it. Let the past be the past; the future is still in my hand
Shek Monu, Rapper
So why does he need this new, high-powered electric wheelchair? Not only will this help him move around in a much more agile manner, it will give him the leeway that he needs to move around on stage and really rap and roll like a king. When he’s holding the microphone in one hand and rapping with all his heart, does it make sense for him to have a wheelchair that runs electrically? Yes! Because if he uses a static pin-up mic and uses an app that moves his wheelchair according to a preset stage pattern, he can actually move his hand with swag.
Even though he is passionate about rapping, Monu doesn't plan to make it his profession. He wishes to pursue an MBA abroad. But that doesn't mean that he intends to leave music behind. He is excited about releasing a music video next week with a few other musician friends. "Life is good right now. I'm happy. People look at me and acknowledge that I'm different. But I take that as a compliment. Thank God life is going smoothly without any problems," he says.
You can contribute to Shek Monu's crowdfunding campaign here: milaap.org/fundraisers/shekmonu?user=existing