‘I opted for this at a very young age, without completing my schooling. But my parents were very supportive of my decision. I was confident in what I wanted to do and I’m glad that they had the same amount of confidence in me’
Wasim Akram is a name that every cricket fan would associate with viscous yorkers. He used to be Pakistan’s weapon in the cricket field, who would bowl over any batsmen with his unpredictable line, length and pace.
Sri Lanka has her own Wasim Akram. But, instead of the leather ball this local Wasim works his magic armed with a paint brush. His real name is Mohammed Akram but is known in his neigbourhood as Wasim Akram. This 22 year old youngster hails from Eravur, a small village in the Eastern coastal town of Batticaloa.
Akram’s murals not only give a different perspective to the wall and home, but also to Batticaloa, and the Eastern Province. Akram who knew that he was a gifted artist decided to go for a larger canvas in the form of walls. His works are not limited to households. He also does commissioned work for schools and other institutions.
Having stopped schooling after his Ordinary Level examination in 2010, Akram opted to follow his dream in making the interior of homes colourful and beautiful. The town of Batticaloa is known for its picturesque lagoon and is also known as the land of the singing fish (Meen paadum then naadu).
He does not use anything fancy. “I use the usual paint brush. But there are times when I do use special brushes,” Akram told the Nation. He was just 16 when he embarked on his passion, which was relatively unknown, and unexplored.
Wall painting is an unexplored profession in the Eastern Province. Akram took a gamble by following his passion seven years ago and today, it has paid off.
“I opted to do wall painting because of the fact that it was not popular in this part of the country. Very few people know about it and fewer people want to do it,” he said.
Akram is not alone in this business. He has four friends assisting him. He has known them from his schooldays and today they are partners in his passion. “We are from the same school, but not from the same class. But we love interior designing.”
Introducing the profession
While his endeavour has improved and expanded over the past six to seven years, Akram says that the interest in interior designing is slowly catching up. “We are getting several offers to change the outlook of homes thanks to good word of mouth. Today, many people know us, and know what we do. People have come to understand that what we do is important since one colour out of place would spoil your mood for life,” Akram added. In other words it’s written on the wall, literally.
When asked how supportive his parents are, Akram said that his success was largely due to the support of his parents and family. “I opted for this at a very young age, without completing my schooling. But they were very supportive of my decision. I was confident in what I wanted to do and I’m glad that they had the same amount of confidence in me.”
It’s a full time vocation for them at the moment. According to him, they work on four to five houses per month and charge approximately Rs. 50,000 per residence. “We do get a stable income for the moment. But we are trying to do more in terms of innovation. Right now we are not trying out anything new since we are still introducing the art form to the surrounding villages,” he added.
However, not all of his clientele can afford his charges. “We do not charge exorbitant amounts from those who cannot afford it. We do it at concessionary rates,” added Akram.