It was a remarkably old, ancient, and corroded building from across the road.
It looked historic! My mind started creating imageries and took me back to those times when this debilitated building must have been a stellar structure. These mental visions unfolded before me just like the white lily bud would uncover its layers after layers into a striking full bloom.
As if back in those days, beautiful women hustled around on the streets, adorned in glittering traditional dresses, fitted mirrored blouses, zardosi resham flowing ethnic skirts, and heavy silk bordered stoles covering their heads.
“How must have those days of olden times been?” I wondered.
Soon enough, I woke up to the reality of blaring honks that brought my attention back to the purpose of my visit to that side of the city, and that sapped building.
I saw a small banner on the top of a dimly lit office space that read:
“SCHOOL FOR BLINDS”
It was a tiny room with a man at the reception; expert at cutting invoices and receiving the voluntary contribution. Our transaction took only five minutes.
Oblivious to the school that stood in the centre of that site, I trudged back to my car with my family to go home. Although my heart was compelling me to muster the courage to ask the office if we could meet the blind children. Instantly, I flung straight back to the office and the caretaker felt delighted to receive my request as the children yearn to meet the volunteers, from the ‘sunny’ world outside (as he later told me).
We followed him to enter into a whole new world, and a soulful one! What I witnessed with my eyes, and experienced in my heart, is threaded below:
Arm linked together, we walk in pairs,
This gives us assurance, we are treading the right way.
Alone we may fall, so together we walk,
United we stand, united we talk.
Welcome to our world, Oh ! don’t be teary,
We are most happy, now that you are caring.
We read the same books, just that we can’t see,
My brail means nothing to you, your words mean nothing to me.
Look at our dark music room, we play the same song,
You sing looking at the audience, we hear the clapping around.
Sure our folks are far, they left us here to your care,
If only you meet us more, will we know, you are there.
You see our dining room? We do not have a fan,
We still enjoy the food, thanking the lord and you.
Sorry, we bumped into you, we smelled your sweet perfume,
Hope you enjoyed our touch, that moved the soul in you.
Don’t let your tears fall, they will spoil my only book,
It’s blank to you with protruding holes, but my only way to “hall of fame” goals.
The huge hall with eighty beds, have dim lights and smell of sweat,
We know which one is ours, we see the way through our hearts.
I am giggling at you from the terrace up here,
You are watching me play with fear I may fall,
I am not your pampered child, I am blind!
But the difference is I don’t fear this life.
Come join me up here, I will show you the sky.
Hold my hand, close your eyes, you too will find,
A little bit of Sun in the darkness of this life……
In the hours spent there, we chatted, laughed, played, cried, and hugged. The children lived in humble conditions, far from their families as they had no means to take care of them. They took care of each other in their own limited ways. Some believed they could see even though they medically could not. Some of them were in agony and some were in their own world of happiness; we shared both.
In this first visit, I was shaken to witness the darkness that the world carries in some hidden recesses of its womb, and also became aware of the potential we possess to make it bright if we can consciously share our privileges with the less privileged.
This experience posed an existential question to me. Do I have a responsibility to the society, the larger world around me?
“Yes, I do,” answered my conscience.
While they did not have the brightness in their eyes to see me but each time I visited, most of them recognised me through my voice and named me ‘Biscuit waali didi’— sister who brings them biscuits and food.
I am eternally indebted to the special children for the love they dispensed; that opened my eyes and expanded my heart to care more, care consciously, and pledge little acts of kindness more often.