Nuha Imran: Freedom is the best gift of life
By Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna
Nuha Imran is an aspiring young artist who believes that everyone should have the freedom to do what they like.This 13-year-old artist is also a sportswoman and engages in karate – Kyokushin, basketball, soccer, cricket and chess. She is a karate blue belt waiting for the fourth level brown belt.
Nuha, tell us about yourself.
My name is Nuha Imran. I am 13 years old and I attend Holy Family Convent, Dehiwala. I have two pet bunnies Neo and Coal, and a brother. I like to do art, play music, and read books during my free time. I also like to play sports such as chess, basketball, cricket, soccer and karate. I consider myself an average and social person.
What is the last book you read?
A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson. I loved it. It was a really nice story.
Who is your favourite author?
That would also be Eva Ibbotson. I love her work. She is well known for her books for children. They are books with different themes and sometimes they are funny. There are horror-themed stories too. For the adults, she will write romance stories and sometimes she even pens comedy comedies. My favourite work among her books is The Journey to the River Sea.
Why is it your favourite?
It is a story about a girl who has lost both her parents. She dreams about going out into the world and being free and finding everything that she wants to know about. I like it because of the way this girl thinks. She is trapped inside a world where nobody is allowed to do anything according to their wish. She somehow finds a way to interact, be social and follow her dreams.
Let’s connect that story to your recent painting which is on the cover of Little Stars today. Did you follow a similar theme in creating the art?
Yes. I believe that freedom is one of the greatest gifts in life. I thought about all the girls in the world and many are not free to follow their dreams due to many reasons like parents’ restrictions, or financial troubles. So I wanted it to be a motivation for them to be able to follow their dreams on their own, no matter what the obstacles they face are.
So, can paintings or art give people hope?
Of course. I think the artist does a piece of artwork with a simple idea in their mind, but wanting to create a much deeper meaning. I want to be a similar type of artist and to be able to motivate people and give them hope.
Since when have you been drawing?
I started drawing when I was 11 years old. I never really knew anything about art when I was younger. When I was 11, I had this sudden inspiration to draw for an exhibition we had in school. And when I did, all my friends were amazed and they were telling me “oh wow, you might win this competition.”That motivated me to draw. Unfortunately, I didn’t win the competition. But I didn’t let that put me down. Instead, I thought to myself that I will make myself better, I’ll improve my techniques and then I will be able to win future competitions.
I am a self-taught artist. I mostly use Google and I have many art books which I refer to when I draw.
Let’s talk about the sports you play.
I play chess, basketball and karate in school. I play cricket and soccer at home with my father and my brother. I have been playing chess since I was in Grade One. I started basketball only very recently. I wasn’t able to practice it much due to the pandemic and I feel that it is a big loss. Hopefully, I will be able to continue with it once the schools reopen.
I have participated in many chess competitions in school and out of school as well. Chess is a very logical game. You need to have a very cool and calm head to play it. You can’t do two things while you play chess, you have to concentrate. It’s very easy to get distracted when you play chess as you have to think about every single move in advance. A single move can decide if you will win or not. You must have the patience, and the ability to carefully think about the move that you are going to make.
Cricket and soccer: these are usually considered boys’ games. Do you agree?
I don’t think there should be separations like this. I don’t think it’s fair. People should have the freedom to do what they like without worrying about whether it’s a girl’s job or a boy’s job.
I consider myself a girl who doesn’t follow ‘girly’ things much. I do like fashion but I don’t like too much makeup or to do my hair in a fancy style. I would prefer to be in jeans and a T-shirt and join my brother and my father in whatever they are doing.
And also, if you look at our girl’s national cricket team you can see how it is not only a boy’s game. I am really proud of them. My parents sometimes say that I should be on the school cricket team because I am good at batting. Once schools reopen maybe I should give it a try.
What is your ambition?
I want to become an astronaut or work for NASA. Since I was very young, I was interested in space and technology. I am preparing for it every day. Every single step matters. I should work harder each day, identify my mistakes and make sure that I will not repeat them.
If you are given a chance to make children freer, what will be the change that you make?
I would allow them to achieve their dreams in certain ways. They must not be spending their time doing unnecessary things. They should concentrate on their dream. There are a lot of children who find it difficult to follow their dreams due to financial troubles. If I can, I would help them with those financial problems to enable them to learn something new.
You said art is one type of motivation booster. What else is there?
We can also motivate people through words. That’s what most of the authors do. Some authors provide a lot of motivation through their words and every single story they write. Sometimes the motivation in the story might be hidden, but the reader should have the ability to look for it.
Other than this there are many other sources of motivation: it can come from your parents or even your friends.
Finally, tell us if you have a role model.
Yes. My mother is my role model. She is the most amazing person I have known in my life. No matter what obstacle comes her way, she will cry it off, get up and then learn from her mistakes. After that, she will go and do better things.
Other than her, my father and my brother are supporting me throughout my journey. My friends and family are my biggest supporters.