It was annoying. Not the nature of its origin but the insatiable curiosity that was accompanying it. The sounds surrounding were painting a three dimensional landscape in my mind as I closed my eyes to try seeing what he sees.

I tried imagining it like three layers of concentric spheres. First there was the inner proximity sounds which was mostly people hustling bustling, then the distant and peak sounds like the occasional engines gushing, phones ringing or anything that sounded shrieking and encompassing the two spheres was the pervasive ambient sound which was almost constant and unique to the surrounding. I don’t know how to explain the ambience of a Railway Station but it felt like, if I could minus the two spheres of sounds, there were still some sounds left. Perhaps it would be easy if I give you an example of another situation, say like the sounds of crickets in a forest. I looked at him now… for minutes. Another casual passenger sitting there rummaging through his old bag and waiting for his train. I could only imagine how he perceives the world around him but I wondered how anyone could be empathetic enough to really understand how the blind or deaf learn to hide that agony and go on about their lives. My train then started and unchained my observation on him. I was chained with a lot of questions though.

In my second year, for the tech fest they brought in a person called Daniel kish. Yea the “Thandavam” movie fame Daniel kish. He is blind but he had this incredible talent to see through echo location (making clicking sounds with the tongue and then making a mental image based on the echo) . The interactive session was nearing its conclusion. Pushing through the crowd, I got hold of the microphone. I asked him,

“How do you dream?”
He gave a smile and asked me how this question was relevant to my electrical engineering. Had the awkward pause been any longer, till the hysterical laughs faded in the auditorium, the microphone would have slipped from my greasy hands. Pushing my balkiness aside and wiping my hands hastily, I stammered that I was just interested. Then he began to explain but I was scared so much and so anxious that I felt I might have offended him and ended up not listening to what he was saying. I hope he didn’t see me as a pretentious prick.

“The next day — the second day of sight — I should arise with the dawn and see the thrilling miracle by which night is transformed into day. I should behold with awe the magnificent panorama of light with which the sun awakens the sleeping earth”
– from “Three days to see” by Helen Keller

The next morning after being taught this essay in my seventh grade, I rushed upstairs to see and appreciate the beauty of dawn for the first time in my life. For all my 11 years on Earth then, I never appreciated the elegance of a dark sky getting painted in pastels of colours as the nearest star to us peeks above the horizon, that no artist could ever replicate with all its allure. Capturing that transformation in my appa’s old sony Ericsson was my favourite thing to do on early morning study time of Exam days. How cool would it be to just take off now, swooshing past the fluffy clouds and watching the sky brightening up?

Watching Helen Keller’s interview on YouTube, phrasing the words even though she has not heard what they sound like affected me so much and I had to read the essay again. On the second day evening, she describes how she longed to see the unfolding of drama and emotions in a theatre which she previously could only see by reading the expressive faces of a friend and hear through the vibrations in the floor. I live for movies. I couldn’t control my tears realizing how deeply I would regret being not able to see all those amazing life changing movies. It bugs me that Helen Keller never got those three days. Yet she lived her life with brimming hope and a kind heart. ” Kind heart” Those words alone will not bring just to a person’s character who thinks that the only darkness she faces is the regret that she could have helped more if she had the gift of sight.

Three days to see by Helen Keller


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