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A Kashmiri medical student paints on leaves to beat COVID-19 stress

Tabish Aijaz Khan. Screenshot from Youtube Video.

Tabish Aijaz Khan. Screenshot from Youtube Video.

This post originally appeared on Video Volunteers, an award-winning international community media organisation based in India. An edited version is published below as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Tabish Aijaz Khan, a young medical student from Anantnag district in Kashmir, is using her natural ability to paint to beat the stress caused by exams and the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 9, 2020, the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir saw its first confirmed case of COVID-19. The latest COVID-19 numbers as of October 11 for Jammu and Kashmir are 83,064 with 1313 deaths.

Kashmir saw over 413 internet blockades since 2012, the longest one is from August 4, 2019, to March 4, 2020, as per Internetshutdowns.in. Internet services are currently restricted to 2G. According to research by Sheikh Shoib and S. M. Yasir Arafat published in The Lancet in September 2020, the combination of communication blackouts with lockdowns in Kashmir is likely to cause loneliness and escalate psychological distress.

Tabish Aijaz started painting in Fourth Standard and since then it has become her hobby. She is currently studying to be a doctor. As her medical course is exhaustive and involves a lot of studies and examinations, Tabish has taken up painting to lessen the stresses caused by the pandemic and the studies.

Rayees Ahmad, social worker and a community correspondent with KashmirUnheard, has interviewed her to learn about her efforts:

Instead of spending time on screen like others, Tabish spends time to mostly paint on chinar (Platanus orientalis) leaves and uploads it on her social media channels. One painting can take from four hours to seven days to complete.

“If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.”

Recently, Tabish has received a lot of appreciation for her efforts raising awareness about the Kashmiri culture and about the spread of COVID-19.

Tabish, who also uses stones and discarded material to create art, has exhibited her works at local art exhibitions. As an aspiring doctor, she uses her art to highlight the service that doctors, nurses and other health workers are giving to the nation in eradicating the pandemic.

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