“Call for a break… phew!” we complained everyday as we reached the top of the bridge that crossed over the rail track at Elphinstone station. As we stopped to catch our breaths, the sun glared right into my eyes from across the skyline of Innovation district. I cannot tell if the bright light blinded me or turned me towards a wider lens.
Across the bridge I saw a man, old but upright selling passport and train pass covers. Surely he saw me too. He smiled liked he had seen someone who he knew for a long time. A closer look, as I walked past him to exit the bridge made me see that he was visually impaired. What I couldn’t understand was the reason behind his smile. Who did he smile at, what for and what was he thinking of?
Everyday as I would pass by him I would hear him chant a mantra until one day I dared to make conversation. “Why are you smiling sir?” I asked with desperation to know. Before he could reply, a man passing by us pushed him and ran away without apologizing. And then and there, I realized how his blind spot was filled only at 9 am but we all lived in it for eternity.
As Gulam Kumbhar (the blind man) narrated to me his lifestyle, I gained information about him but I learnt more about myself. He told me with pride how he passed his HSC exams and how he prefers to make trade instead of beg like the 70% of blind people in the country. I wondered how he had so much data about the recent government movements such as the Demonetization schemes, etc. He mentioned he would listen to every detail narrated on the radio news as this was his favorite source of entertainment. A comparative of our lives was unrealistic as I was highly privileged with materialism whereas he was highly privileged with the pursuit of happiness. The way he talked about his trade and regularity of life with such ease, even greater than that of every life running to gain something out of time in my busy city.
You all may believe Gulam is blind but I know that, ‘he saw me.’
This is a short brief of my research for Project week for which I chose to look into- A Life Without Vision.