The sound of success

January 2017

By Jamuna Rangachari

Speech and hearing impaired since birth, Murali Kuppusamy’s story is about the unflagging determination of a young boy to better the lot of people suffering from the same disability, says Jamuna Rangachari


When given a challenge, some people convert it into an opportunity to not just overcome it, but go further and help others. Murali Kuppusamy’s life story made me realise how miraculous  life can be if we realise that there is something inside us which is far superior to the circumstances that combat us.

Fifty-six-year-old Murali was the fourth child of the late Shri Kuppusamy who was the District Collector of Coimbatore. In his family, while the first two children were born normal, the third child and Murali were born hearing and speech impaired. And even though the family learnt to communicate with each other, the world did not.

His parents were very keen that Murali get educated but unfortunately, there were no special schools in Coimbatore back then. In the ‘60s, education for the deaf and dumb was unheard of in India. His father took a transfer to Thirunelvali where there was a school for children with special needs.  Though Murali completed his school, he lost interest in academics and did not pursue it further as no one used sign language to teach students like him.

His father set up a tailoring shop for him so that he could at least earn a living. Fortunately, Murali was a gifted sportsman, particularly in table tennis, where he started representing India at international events. As he had to travel often for sporting events, he had to close the tailoring shop.  Finally, he moved to Ooty where he started work in the dispatch department of Hindustan Photo Films. It was at that time that he got married to Sudha, who also happened to be hearing impaired. Sadly, their initial attempts to have children ended in miscarriages, but their prayers were answered when finally they had a daughter, Sneha, who was perfectly healthy in all ways. His family was complete, and Murali was a happy man.

A helping hand

Around him, Murali saw that there were many other hearing- and speech-impaired people who were struggling to make both ends meet. He wanted to inspire them with the belief that there was nothing they could not do, and that disability need never be an excuse. With this in mind, in 2004, he and his wife Sudha formed an NGO. His organisation runs a special school for the hearing impaired, training them in
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