Thursday, December 4, 2014

Post #73 : The diary of a Blindman (*3)

Post #72 : The diary of a Blindman (*2)
Post #71 : The diary of a Blindman (*1)

I hated people. All they did was to give their part of pity, sympathy or wishes.
I hated myself. I was just a bag of blood and bones converting food into poop.
Couldn't see. Couldn't walk. Uneducated. Unemployed. Life was aimless.
I hardly met people. They all always sounded dull. Except her.
One day I heard some unfamiliar voices from the other room. They were our new neighbours.
"So you have a son. In which standard?" An old female voice asked.
"Ah, actually he doesn't go to school. He is blind." And then my mom repeated all the tragic story.
"So what?" Said another sweet yet commanding voice.
"It doesn't mean he will sit on a bed for the rest of his life. Where is he? I wish to meet him."
And I heard footsteps approaching.
"Hi. Wanna play a game?"
"Yeah. I'm pretty good at footless soccer."
"I said 'game'. Not 'sports'. What about chess? Actually, hold on for a minute."
And she ran out. In minutes, she came back with a chess set.
Not an ordinary one. It was a magnetic chess board with iron pieces carved especially for easy identification by touch.
I had seen one in school but never played.
She told me rules and we started playing.
Contrary to what I expected, she didn't let me win.
Instinctively, I asked for another round.
"Not today. Be ready at 10 tomorrow. I'll pick you up. We will get a place where you will find a lot of people like you."
Then she told me that she was a part of a self-help group of some physically challenged people.
"No. I'm done with this. I don't want to see sick people again."
"And I thought you couldn't see." She said laughingly.
It was a lame joke, but I managed to smile.
"Its okay. You can avoid people. Just come with me."
I couldn't say no.
Next day she took me to a building. As promised I wasn't introduced to anyone.
While playing chess, she said "Quick questions. Answer in a line or two. What do you enjoy doing?"
"Things where I don't have to rely on anyone. Singing, writing.." I ran out of the list. "..chess."
"Question two. What's wrong with you?"
"I feel like a burden on my parents. I can't do anything about that. And this is killing me."
"Question three. What do you want?"
"To be respected."
She continued the game.
She kept me busy all day.
Someday I would learn abacus. Another day I would read someone's biography.
French lessons were given a separate hour.
We were learning piano together.
I was getting better at chess.
I read GK books at home.
Science and economics were fun when learnt for knowledge.
I learnt doing signature.
I started meeting people.
They appreciated my singing.
I started to write short stories, poems and songs.
Day by day, I was getting better.
Life was still aimless. But happier.
"Results matter today. They might not tomorrow." She said one day.
And that was the day when she took me to a hospital telling me it was a general check up.
But they checked my eye and sent reports to another hospital.
And last week doctors told me that they can fix it.
Just one operation. That's it.
And here I am.
On a hospital bed. My parents sitting in front of me. She is out for coffee.
Doctor said OR will be ready in 10 minutes.
He frankly asked me whom do I wish to see for the first time.
"Obviously, Mom."
But perhaps, I wouldn't mind seeing her as for the first thing I would like to see.
And, to the Operation room!
10 Years Later
I had really forgotten about this diary.
Would never have found it if I weren't moving today.
Since I've found it,  I can continue.
Still, in braille. Because I still can't write.
Operation didn't go as expected.
No harm was done  but couldn't fix it.
I was a little dissapointed at first,  but its okay now.
I think I'm doing good now-a-days.
Two years after the operation,  I managed to forge some graduation degree and got a job under physical handicapped quota.
I make announcements at railway station.
Isn't fun though, but allows me to pay my bills.
I can send some money to Maa as well.
Father passed away three years back.
I still sing sometimes. Whenever I get bored alone.
But now I'm moving out. To a new city. I got transferred.
I am quite excited.  Maybe I could make some friends.  Any friend.
I'm all packed. She is waiting outside in a taxi.
Her husband is also with her.
He is a good guy. Keeps her happy.
They've a kid as well.
Life is just fine. Workable.
Results matter today. They might not tomorrow.
~ Chand Sethi

Friday, August 1, 2014

Post #72 : The diary of a Blindman (*2)

Post #71 : The diary of a Blindman (*1)

We woke up early morning to attend 5AM aarti . There wasn't much crowd. Most of the pilgrims were tired of last day's hike to see *stones of god* . But my mother didn't want to miss any aarti .
If god is everywhere, why is he in mountains?

Around 5:45 we were coming back to our lodge on our feet.
We reached point where we (technically my parents) could see our lodge when we heard screams and rumbling voices rapidly coming near.

Screams turned from *bhago* to *bachao* in seconds.
Before I could ask my father he picked me up and ran.
After a few moments of that adrenaline run he stopped and took the side by a rock.
I felt splashes of water on my head.

By then I had realised that there was a river flowing just a few feet away from us.
The river wasn't there before this minute.

We were hiding behind a U-shaped rock of sufficient height and strength to protect us from landslide. But not for long. We were inside the curve of that U and landslide was hitting it on the outer curve.

Emergencies slow down the time. My father had a plan made in his head in few seconds.

I climbed on his back and we started hiking up.
After hiking up a few metres there, we were stuck.

In front of us was the disaster again.
We were on a thick stone and there was water everywhere around us.
Everything else disappeared. Our lodge, that Mandir from where we were coming - *vanished*

Our life saver, the U-shaped rock was immersed by then.

It started raining heavily and we were just waiting to die. My mother almost fainted seeing dead bodies flowing few feet below her.

After sometimes flood slowed down but was still fatal. And then there were gigantic rocks coming in the flood tearing apart the rock we were standing on.

We came closer and a stone of size of my head hit me in my abdomen.
It hit it me so fast and I slipped.

I was in the water to my knees when my father caught me by my hand.
This isn't a Bollywood movie. The flow was fast and I was then a part of the flood.
Last thing I remember was my mother screaming my name. And then sound of water.

Here lies the biggest doubt of my life.
I'm writing this means I'm alive. So I know that after this accident, my mother didn't talk to my father for really long time.
She never told me the reason behind it.

But I'm blind by eyes, not by mind. I can see always through her heart.

She had made a belief in her mind that my father deliberately let me go.

What can I say? I hadn't *seen* him leaving my hand.
But maybe, I was really a burden on them. Or at least on him.

I am still looking for a final thought on this. Sometimes I accept that I'm a burden and he might have thought that it was the best way to get over me guilt free.

Sometimes I want to believe that it was really an accident. Flow was too fast and he had not much space to stand. And what kind of father does that...

Anyhow, while I was in flood, I realized it wasn't water as I was assuming. It was *mud*, thick dense mud with rocks and stones in it, flowing faster than a usual river.

I had given up. I would take a breath if I came up by chance for a second.
But then for a long time, I didn't come up and was unconscious.

When I woke up, it was still raining and I was hearing chirrups. I took them as birds and was imagining if I was in heaven but later my ears started working and they were actually humans talking.

I started shaking my head and someone near me shouted "Arre he is alive".

I was picked up by a few people and I screamed in pain. The worst pain imaginable. It was my leg.

Then they told me that I was lying by side of a valley and they first thought I was dead. Because of my leg.
From my toe to my knee my bone was visible.
I had been there for a day.
Had no idea where my parents were.
"Why didn't I die?" I thought.
Pain killed my hunger. Lucky me, people near me were starving.

People would make a group and go higher on hills looking for food packets dropped by military.
But nothing was dropped that day.

I went unconscious umpteen times.
On day 3 rain stopped and packets of food were dropped by helicopters.
No one offered me food. Then a Sardar (assuming from his voice) gave me a bread loaf.

Holding it gave me pain.
Chewing it gave me pain.
Swallowing it gave me pain.
Crying in pain gave me pain.

By evening, rescue team was there. They were not starving so did something human and first picked me up. I remember being picked up by a stretcher and getting an oxygen mask on my face.

Next I woke up in a hospital in Dehradun. My parents had found me.
And my leg had lost me.

*To be continued*

~ Chand Sethi

Post #73 : The diary of a Blindman (*3)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Post # 71 : The diary of a Blindman (*1)

My operation is in few hours. Though they say there are no major risks in operation, I still think I may die. So I asked my dad to bring my chart, ruler and needle. I wanted to write.
People always hide their personal diaries. I'm writing mine on a public hospital bed. This is the best thing about Braille. No one can see what I am writing.
I was lucky enough to learn Braille.
This word "luck" has many memories associated.
I was unlucky to born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH).
Doctors discovered it when I was 13 months old when I fell from a bed and my parents took me to a hospital.
My mother kept blaming herself for next six months for, not taking care of me. It took six months for doctors to convince her that it was genetic and fall had nothing to do with it.
My father left no hospital and my mother left no temple, mosque, Gurudwara or church.
Hospital clearly told my father that there was no cure for ONH. And my mother, she never got a reply.
Doctor said that the next child could generate the same defection in womb. (Which hasn't been proven yet)
So my parents decided not to try. What's worse than a blind child? Two blind children!
What's worse than having two blind children?
One of them having brain issues.
Yes, ONH can associate itself with Morsier's syndrome which causes some brain issues.
I was lucky enough to not get that. Next child might not have been(?)
My parents were not poor. They were ready to put any amount of money to get me treated.
I consider it unlucky for me. Had been they poor and left me in a temple and I would have died and avoided all those sufferings.
Luckily, they sent me to a blind boarding school.
I was not at all okay with thoughts of leaving my parents. I was crying all the way. I mean, who puts a 7-year-old blind scared kid in a boarding school?
I remember standing in front of my father and touching around his belt to find his hands and begging him not to go. But he did go and I kept crying.
My parents weren't cruel as I thought then. They were strong and wise.
The school was really big and noisy. I wasn't used to either.
We were made to wear hostel clothes during evenings and school uniforms during mornings. Everyone had their names embroidered on their clothes for ease of identification.
I mixed up in a few days. I made friends.
Year after year I survived. Parents came every 6-8 months. But I never missed them.
There were a few seniors that always inspired me that I can join the mainstream people.
But there were also some religious mainstream bastards who visited school and provided us free food in the name of god (with a small g).
We were used to listening statements like "bhole panchhi hai ye. Inhe dukh nahi pohnchna chahiye"
Why don't you people understand?
Why do you treat us like abnormal people? We are just unique.
It hurts when you consider us something other than human beings.
We don't need your help as much as we need your respect.
Coming back, I made it to class tenth. And things decided to change when God decided to enter.
That year when my parents visited ; I was having a walk with them. I was holding my father's hand and he suddenly stopped.
"Is that a car?" I said pointing to his right.
"What?! How do you know?" He was in shock. A good shock.
"Everything is black. This thing is less black" I said.
I had started to see and differentiate between different shades of black because of whatever image my underdeveloped eye nerve could carry was now received by my brain.
My mother started to cry. Because few months ago she had made a mannat to some god requesting to show some sign of improvement.
God shouldn't have entered.
*To be continued*
~ Chaand Sethi

Post #72 : The diary of a Blindman (*2)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Post # 70 : Unsaid

Do what makes you happy.
Some people stick to ethics. Why? Because it makes them happy. At peace.
Some people stick to selfishness. Why? Because it makes them happy. At pace.
Its not about right or wrong. Its about what makes you feel better.

Enjoy Yourself.
Being sad is being stupid.
Times are there when you are about to give up and want to yell "Help me. I'm screwed."
I found no one to yell at. Just a good nap and things went fine.
You may get what you want. But you may not always get it the way you wanted.
My 3-year journey to get into a reputed college ended on the last day. Having lakhs of rupees and reputation on stake, I was screwing up every exam for 2nd consecutive year. The torture ended on my last exam.
All I wanted was a good college. I got one. But not the heroic way I wanted.

The Tipping Point.
2013 - Acamedics, social life, relationships, and health - everything doomed.
There came the tipping point. Make or Break.
2014 - Reputed college, social reputation restored, healthy relationship. Still skinny though.

My last day at Delhi. No one to say goodbye.
I took people for granted. Never do that. 
Its not easy to carry 70kg luggage when you are 50 yourself.

Theory of Unified life.
I don't find it amusing that we have to life differently among our parents, friends, acquaintances, and public.
I tried talking to my parents the way I talk to my friends. Had to sleep on sofa that night.

Few posts back I was saying Do what is right. Not what is easy.
Now I'm saying Do what you love. Not what is right.
As I experience something new, I'll change. I'll learn.

Right now, I'm in the most exciting stage of my what-so-ever life.
There is still something that keeps messing with my head and I know it needs a measure but somethings are better left unsaid.
~ Chaand Sethi

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Post # 68 : The escape velocity

There are times, when hard work isn't hard anymore.
A different state - a trance where everything seems in-control.
No trace of stress, agony, fear or boredom.
A euphoria, that I wish should never end.

But it does end. Like it did, recently.

Last week something happened and I felt like a completely different person. Someone I always wanted to be.
It felt like I was high on Felix Felixis.
I was studying like I never did. I was eating like everything was the tastiest thing I could taste. My brain was on fire. It felt like ideas, solutions and creativeness were in my pocket.

And just when someone asked "Wish to play cards?"
I always screw up card games where luck plays more than you.
I felt self-doubt. One thought led to another and I ended up questioning my luck.

And all the charm faded.

In my quest to "Does god/destiny exist?" , now I see patterns. 
I have no idea what or who put me into that trance. But I know what took me out of it.
So there should be something that took me into this vortex. I need to find that - the key to luck.
So that I can answer my question in a 'No'.

From a last few days, my brain is chanting "I'm good but not good enough."
Like I almost reached there. With a velocity just a little less than an escape velocity that would set me free.
And gravity won this time. Ouch.

~ Chand Sethi