The Brush is mightier than the Pen: A story of Fathima Hakkim

Her paintings tell the horrifying stories about a young girl, who was molested by her own uncle at an innocent age, and the plight of women, who have to get through the day fighting the perverted gazes that follow them everywhere they go. Her pictures are a testament to the fact that a picture indeed does say a thousand words. Her paintings and the words they say have reached thousands of people already, and will surely travel further, thanks to the undying love for colors she has.


Fathima Hakkim is a name many patrons of visual arts will be familiar with, and the legacy she has built stands tall only because she never gave up in her fight. From dealing with her dyslexia in her childhood to dealing with her family and society, who were trying to bring her down, Fathima’s life has been a war ever since she decided to take up the brush. Born in an orthodox Muslim family, Fathima was blocked from following her dreams at every nook and corner of her life. Some told her that being an artist is not something a “modest” girl would do. Others would threaten her by saying that girls with such careers were not suitable for marriage.

It would have been easy for Fathima to give up, but all these hurdles did nothing, excepting firing her up even more. She realized that reasoning with the society is hard, and let her work do all the talking. Even her parents were skeptical about her passion for art, but she says that their disapproval vanished into thin air once they got to see the reception Fathima’s paintings got at exhibitions.

Fathima has had to learn art by herself, and then go on to unlearn everything she knew to follow her heart. Her initial paintings were what the world teaches everyone as “good art”, but she knew that her art may resonate with other people, but it didn’t resonate with herself. According to Fathima, she had to stop thinking about how the world saw her art and gave up pleasing everyone else to draw what she wanted, not what the people wanted to see. She says her art has transformed herself over the years. Given that she has gone from being a rebellious teenager to being one of the most well-known artists in India, it is safe to say that the results of this transformation were pretty astounding.

Fathima still has many more stories to tell. Recently, she tried to bring attention to the work that was done by the community of fishermen in the relief work in Kerela. She feels that her art is the best way she can show how she feels, and would often resort to the painting board whenever everything around her seemed dark. And at the age of 26, it is safe to assume that the magical hands of Fathima Hakkim still have a lot to offer the world.


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