Showing us the ways in darkness…

The lines, which I have read three decades back on a poster  – “It’s beautiful to see the colourful world. Pledge to donate your eyes to enable other to see”  – are still refresh in my mind. During my association with the Home for the Blinds which houses visually impaired persons with free lodging and boarding – I have realized as to how to cope with the darkness in your life. But you have to teach the inmates by narrating about the happenings around you.

I recollect that the Nature Conservation Society, Punjab had an unusual audience to cater into one of its ongoing nature sensitization programmes for the sightless youths so that they may not miss an opportunity to see and appreciate natural colours, beauty, grace and elegance of a variety of animals and bird species. An audio was prepared of recorded sounds for them to have a feeling of about two dozen species ranging from the chirping of sparrows, singing notes of the brain fever bird ending with the roar of the lion.

I often go to meet the blinds and interact with them to know their feelings.  Even I took them once to Golden Temple and Durgiana Mandir in Amritsar and shared the brief history and structure of thse temples and materialist world around us.   I often see them with their extra sensory memories developed with the loss of their sight.  Some of them dressed themselves smartly and conditioned to the architect of the building for moving without any assistance but just by touching walls of the corridor with the left or right hand, probably to get signals of familiarity.

I remember when one of the inmates – KL- visited my house, the moment he was made to sit on the chair, he sensed our presence rather welcomed me with generous words of praise for inviting him.  Rather, on hearing the tick-tick of old clock hanging on the wall above his head, he asked, dear what is time now?

He was however, feeling regretted to have retired from government services which the computer invention has come in the market to put his hands on talking computer.  Anyhow, all of them have a good memory and some of them are interested in pursuing higher studies.

When I kept the newspaper on the table, he too sensed the feeling of newspapers and updated me about the heavy floods in the West Bengal which he had heard from the All India Radio. Radio is the best medium for them to update of the happenings in the world.

He shared with me his long journey in darkness turned into light with me learning to move with folding canes, listening to the radio and TV and reading from the Braille language – a raised six dots on the paper invented by Louise Braille.  The Braille signs also helped them to enjoy playing cards with raised dots to identify the status of card, on the corners of the card and of course, sometime cricket with a ball which produces sound on throwing along the wall.
 
I collect that actor Naseerudin Shah, who played the leading role of a sightless man in the movie ‘Sparsh’, writes in his autobiography ‘And Then One Day’ that ‘ the script of the film ‘Sparsh’ was a starting depiction of the fact of their being deprived of one sense, necessarily means being compensated rightly by nature in others, including the sense of ego.  Their gentle unhurried approach to life, their willing to enjoy life, the pride they take in their achievements, their acceptance of willingness to cope with permanent darkness, is really a inspiring in the way they are happening.

Frankly speaking, once sitting with the and watching them clapping, smiling and keeping the neck little tilted, which I don’t understand as to they keep their posture so, perhaps to concentrate in their darkness – but these moments when rushed to knock on my eye ducts for a teardrop or two. For a moment, a feeling comes to mind that I am sighted and moved to help them with the incident of lathi-charge on them for demonstrating for reservation in jobs, which later on was accepted.

I being with the blind inmates have a deep humbling experience, compelling us to ponder that in a manner of thinking they also showed us the way to live in difficult days also.


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