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Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn whatever state I am in, therein to be content. Helen Keller (1880-1968), US Blind and Deaf Educator

Remember Hellen Keller — the wonderful woman writer-essayist of the early 20th century who created her own niche and overcame her deafness and blindness to become one of the most popular American writers of her time? As a school kid , I used to be absorbed for hours in Keller’s autobiography The Story of My Life and the way she described the various faculties of sight, sound, smell and taste. The descriptions used to be so vivid that when she described a cricket making noise in the darkness, I could actually feel the cricket making that noise. We had a few pieces of Keller’s writings in our class eighth syllabi. My English teacher at school asked us to variously identify the sounds and the colours that Keller described and I would just love to identify those. At the end of the class, Ismat maam would say “kids can you actually tell that the person who has written this beautiful piece was both blind and deaf. As kids of a very impressionable age, we would gasp. For a very long time Keller’s descriptions followed me. But as memory has her own way always and with more demanding texts to be read and analyzed in Honours and Postgraduation classes , I forgot all about the simple writings of Helen Keller.

But it’s different today! Suddenly Keller comes to haunt me after many-many years and that too not without a purpose. It’s my Birthday tomorrow and the doctor quitely announced to me this afternoon that I am at a risk of slowly turning deaf. After the audiogram and other formal tests, the doctor silently but very concernedly announced that I had a bad virus attack in my ears and that there has been a small hearing loss which might get amplified if there are recurring colds.

I was numbed for a moment! No this can’t be me! It’s just a wrong test analysis! The doc was also sad but he nodded in affirmation to all his satetments adding that it is irreversible. He just patted my shoulders and said: “do not worry it is a small hearing loss…nothing to be too worried.” I came out of the hospital not beliving all that happened a moment ago. But then that was the truth and I had to eschew it.

In the hostel friends used to tease me earlier that I was turning deaf, sometimes I would laugh and sometimes I would react saying it was mean to tease someone on their physical challenged parts. Earlier, even I remember taking pleasure in laughing at people’s abnormalities and anomalies, like obesity, hearing imparities, thinness, memory loss, etc, but today I realized that how painful it is to the person who faces an imparity himself/herself. It is only the individual who undergoes such a state that understands the amount of pain when one has to choose between life and living.

While I was on my way home today, I listened to every little sound as if it were my own baby. The noise of the crickets, the autoricksaws booming through the gullies, the distant woodpecker pecking at a raw wood, the call of familiar voices, the cell phone ringing, everything suddenly seemed music and harmony to my ears. I realized that God has made some human beings receptive in a different way than others, the only thing they require is not your sympathy but your understanding that they are just different not incapable….

We just need to behave as human beings with another human being…

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings. Helen Keller, My Religion, 1927

(This post is dedicated to all those small kids who are undergoing some or the other form of physical/mental battle…remember God loves those who are capable of making themselves strong against any form of road block)
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