Kajal Srivastava

I was a UPSC aspirant who had dreamt a whole life around it. One day, I slept with a hope to start a new life and the next day, not only my dream was shattered but also suddenly I was off the anchor, nothing to fall back on, and nothing to look forward to, yes, I failed. All the late-night tears, extra walks to save money, early mornings to be ahead of others and those long 8 years of penance felt gone for nothing.

It is when you refuse to give up on yourself even when it is the most normal thing to do, the miracle happens.


Out of all the days in my life, particularly that day taught me the meaning of being a martial artist more than anything else. I found that un- deciphered courage within me that told me to not give up yet because I refuse to stop at this ‘failure’. After the result was announced, the first person I called up was my Gurukkal (Kalari teacher in Malayalam), Shinto Mathew, because I desperately needed some guidance. 

I completely owe it to him for my present and authentic life of true purpose. Without even a single crinkle in his tone he instructed me to not waste any time and get up and spread my wings. I could not sleep that night as I kept thinking about what my Guru said. Immediately a term came to my mind and I wrote it on a sheet of blank paper, ‘TAVASI’ and turned it around to write, “my movement for life”, that is it. I switched off the lights and had the most peaceful sleep-in years. 

Kalaripayattu is India’s own ancient most art of self-defence, but for me it is an art of empowerment. The process of training, postures and movements is formulated by our ancestors in such a manner that it inculcates an internal sense of fearlessness, courage and freedom much before it strengthens you physically. It is truly an art of self-actualisation. Kalari as we call it, is the need of an hour and I urge all the people reading this to practice this art to find your courage to live a life you truly desire, the life of courage to be YOU.  

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As a happenstance, as I write this article, I received a message from a student from one of my workshops who writes, “I am going through a rough patch mentally and physically and since our session I am practicing Kalari each day and it is helping me, thank you Ma’am”. When you are on the right path, universe will send you its affirmation through most unusual ways


2 years back, the girl who was finding it hard to answer the question, “what do you do” and preferred hiding inside a shell is today a martial artist, a conservationist of an ancient Indian art form of ‘National cultural heritage’ status, social empowerment motivational speaker and Founder of a Movement named TAVASI.

The moral of my story is, even when the whole world thinks you’re a “waste” case, you have to still hope and imagine the most fascinating and inspiring story for your future before you sleep. You never know, some day you might actually become that exact version if you just stick by your own self through the storm.