I sat in the balcony of my house thinking about the beautiful gulmohar tree that was there, the whiff of wet mud refreshed my memories again… I still remember that day… it was raining. I was staying in a house surrounded by trees. The sky was adorned with rain clouds. The eucalyptus tree in the garden swayed with joy and the air was filled with the sweet smell of wet mud. It was truly glorious. I remember looking up at the thundering sky and saying, "God you are truly great."
It was summer and we had vacations. I had had a lot of fun going for picnics, learning to swim and climbing mountains. It had been a wonderful vacation. School was just a week away and I was very happy; I would be in a new class. Well, let me not think about that as yet. I still have a week!
My friend came over and we were playing in the garden when we decided to climb a tree. It was a little slippery but I had to get up there and touch those green leaves. I wanted to touch the tender ones, those were the new leaves and they are always softer than the others.
As I tried to reach it, I slipped and fell. The next thing I remember was that I woke up. I tried to open my eyes, or I felt that my eyes were open, but I could not see anything but darkness. I knew I was in the hospital. I could smell it but the darkness that I saw was weird. I mean I had been in darkness before, even when it is dark I could at least see something.
"Wait a minute…how in the world did I get here?" I thought. Then I remembered playing with this friend of mine and now I knew. I fell off the tree.
I must have moved because my mother held my hand; it felt good. Her small little podgy hands were so soft. She came and gave me a kiss. I wanted to see her so I said," Mom, could you please switch on the light? It is too dark. I want to see you."
She sounded puzzled, "But the lights are on sweetheart?"
I was confused. I touched my eyes. Like I said, they felt open but I wanted to make sure. "Are you sure that the lights are on Mummy, because I can't see you?" I said.
Suddenly I felt very scared. I wanted to see my mother and I felt something - a feeling which if I ever felt again I would dread. I knew something had gone wrong with me. I felt that I had become blind…I won't be able to see again. No, no, this can't be true. This is not happening to me. God you can't do this to me and I started to cry.
The doctors rushed in and immediately a series of tests were taken. Then they gave me the news. I already knew it. I was depressed and angry.
I hated the world, I hated God and the only question I had was, WHY ME?
I stayed this way for quite some time. Everyone tried to cheer me up. My best friend came to see me every day and she told me stories about school. She read to me but I wanted to be in school too …it was my school!
So one day I walked up to my Dad and told him, "Daddy I want to go to school". "That's great!" my father exclaimed, "There is this new school not very far from here, I will get you admitted there."
"A different school? No! I want to go to my school," I said.
"But, sweetheart." My father said. He tried to explain that I would not be able to FIT in, but I was adamant. After some time he gave up.
"I am not going to a blind school," I thought.
A few weeks went by and I tried to occupy myself and not think of my eyes, but nothing helped. I was totally consumed by grief. I was totally frustrated. I could not even get up and go to the living room by myself. I needed somebody all the time. I felt very dependent and helpless.
I was standing in my balcony wondering, "Why Me???" when it began to rain. The whiff of the wet mud smell filled my lungs and suddenly I felt someone whisper in my heart, "Life is full of choices so choose to be happy." I swung my hands everywhere. "Who's there? Talk to me, tell me more," but I heard nothing.
That night when I slept, I kept dreaming of the words I had heard. When I woke up the next morning, I felt happy and hopeful and suddenly I knew things would get better. Those words that whispered in my heart made me think about the situation I was in and I knew I had the choice of either sitting and sulking about life or to go out there and learn to live a wholesome life…and I knew that my choice was to live life to the full.
At breakfast I announced to my Dad, " Daddy, I want to go to blind school, would you take me?" My father hugged me and said, "My dear, I am proud of you. Of course I will take you."
My mother hugged me too. I know she was overwhelmed with emotion. I know she had tears in her eyes, I felt them.
That morning was the beginning. I went to this school and I heard a lot of children. I had finally heard the voices of children after months of waiting. My new teacher escorted me to the class where we were taught to write in Braille and to type in Braille. The best part, we had our own library with books in Braille just waiting to be read by us. Here I was learning how to read and write in Braille, though I must admit that I found it quite difficult.
One day, when I was sitting in the library trying to read but I was unable to, I became very disappointed and sad. My father came in and sat next to me. He noticed that I was unusually quiet and knew something was wrong; he always knew.
"Hi sweetheart, how is school going on?" he asked.
"Daddy, I can't do this, I try and I try but I just don't get it sometimes. I don't know if I am ever going to learn to read Braille. It is too tough," I cried.
Daddy just held me tight and said, "Remember when we went to the temple which is on top of a mountain? Remember? We were climbing the mountain and my legs started aching and I sat down and said, "Where is the temple? I can't see it." And you told me, "Daddy, the temple is there. You can't see it because it is covered with fog. Although you can't see it, I know it is there. I know you will climb up to it and I will make sure you do."
"Well sweetheart, that day you showed me that just because you can't see something, does not mean it is not there. So although climbing the mountain was difficult I knew the temple was there and I knew I had to reach it."
I knew what my Dad wanted me to understand.
I went back to school and started with new vigor and very soon I could read. One day my friends and I [I had managed to make a few] were talking about ourselves. When I started talking, I spoke about how beautiful the world looks and how I missed seeing it. And the one thing I really missed seeing, was my parents."
After I said that, I was very quiet, just thinking, when the girl next to me said, "You are lucky you know. You have at least seen them. I have just heard them. You have seen flowers. I can just imagine how they look and I can only smell them. I have been told there are many colors in this world but I don't understand what color means."
I felt very bad after listening to her and for the first time in 2 years I felt lucky to have at least pictures to relate to the world. And on that day I learnt that although the light in your eyes is gone, you must see the world with the light in your heart.
Written in 2007 by Shakti K. --- Chennai, India