Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Did I forget to count my blessings?

These spectacles suck.  My nose bridge where this pair of glasses sits has developed tiny dents just like the soft potholes on a newly constructed road.  To avoid further damage, these dents now get double dosage of moisturizer and two drops of imported olive oil daily but I know these stubborn marks won’t go away and will worsen with time.  A well wisher suggests light weight rim less frame or better still contact lenses. Wow, every problem has a solution!
‘Only far sighted people can wear contacts. You require only reading glasses,’ informed Dr Pallavi. Surgery is another option but that is expensive and no surgery is 100% safe. What if!! Thoughts of what if linger on in my mind and I give up the idea of an avoidable surgery.  That implies I will have to wear these thick horrible looking glasses all my life to even read the headlines. The day is not far off when like my 75 years old dad, I will be carrying two pairs of specks, one for reading the seat numbers on the ticket and one for watching the movie. Oh God, these specks make me look so old and it is so cumbersome to wear and remove them every two minutes. Reading is so much enjoyable if the glasses don’t come in between. 
Leaving my train of thoughts behind, I remove my glasses and rush to the meeting room. I have an appointment with one Mr Balaji, a gentleman in mid thirties who wants to meet me regarding financial assistance for his trust. When I enter the room Mr Balaji is already waiting for me. He rises from his chair to greet me when he hears the click clack sound of my heels.  ‘Good afternoon Madam,’ he says cheerfully with his hands folded in polite namaste. I plank myself on the chair opposite him and he starts off about the activities of his trust and how he wants to help other people. The office boy enters and keeps the coffee in front of him. Mr Balaji is so engrossed; he does not notice the coffee. After some time, my colleague takes Mr Balaji’s hand to the edge of the cup to indicate that it is time for him to finish his coffee and end the meeting.  All along Balaji looks in my direction but fails to notice the olive green color of my sari.  In between he turns his head to address others in the room; he brings his attention back to my face when the tiny bells on my earnings in the matching shade make a tinkling sound when I shake my head in affirmation or negation.  I keep the necessary documents in front of him to have a look. As an afterthought I take back the documents and read them aloud; Balaji could not read what I had kept in front of him. He was blind.
Balaji was not born blind. Glaucoma was detected when he was six years old.  Not the type to be dissuaded by such handicaps, he did his education till PhD and now he has formed a trust to help visually challenged people.  He uses public transport to commute. ‘The bus stop is 400 metres from my office,’ I had mentioned while explaining to him the directions. ‘Don’t worry, I always find my way out,’ he had replied politely. 
As I come back to my desk after requesting one of my colleagues to accompany Balaji to the bus stop, I make an attempt to visualize the daily routine of Balaji, his daily struggle for things which we take for granted.  I try to but I fail.  After a few thoughts, I give up. I pick up my glasses to look at my screen. 


Anonymous said...

Good article sujatha..
I have seen the difficulties and at the same time confidence of Visually challenged people. 2 of my grandfathers are Blinds and I used to help them till their demise. In 2002, I saw an advertisement on "Star of Mysore" requesting help for making thesis for a visually challenged PHD student. I met that person and he was Mr. Balaji. I was with him for 3 months and helped in his thesis preparations. Also accompanied him where ever he wants to go. Later, I had to break away from him due to my Job at other state. Recently, he was on his way to work and dropped him at his workplace. He shared his trust plan with me and immediately responded him by giving your reference. I have a suggestion to you. We need to felicate persons like Mr Balaji on some occasion we organize and normal people will inspired by their achievement. Also, I know other person Proff Venu gopal who is also visually challenged and he is one of eminent law professor in our state.
-- Shivanand

Karthik Nag said...

very well written Sujata!Bravo

Upma khera said...

Very well written sujju!i have learnt to love my specs after a short brush with blindness!Thank God that we still have the sight to adorn them!!!!

Suman Pandit said...

very good article sujata