The people with eyesight seem to see so little that they often fail to recognize what is around them. Whenever I hear about people falling off the cliff or bumping into objects on the way, I just wonder why they have not been able to make full use of their eyes. My wife occasionally goes out to attend public functions and celebrations, but always comes back to say that she did not see anything. I have many friends who have been in the woods but have not seen anything special there.
Although I am blind, it seems I can see a lot more than those who have eyesight. When I am in the woods, I explore everything my hands land on and look at it with all my heart. The fragrance of flowers that enters my nostrils, the lush of dry leaves beneath my feet on the ground, the soft green leaves my fingers run across and the lulling murmur of a brook in the distance, all give me enough reasons to enjoy and appreciate the inner beauty of Nature.
But at times, my heart silently weeps longing to see all those things with my own eyes. If I can get so much pleasure through mere touch, I wonder how much more beauty can be revealed by eyesight. Yet it is sad that those who can see often take things for granted. In the world of light, it is quite unfortunate that the gift of sight is used only as a mere convenience and not as a means of adding fullness to life. Of course, it is true that we would be able to appreciate what we have only when we have lost it. Only the deaf will appreciate hearing and the blind will realize the real blessings that lie in eyesight.
I have been deprived of my sight for more than 25 years now. This painful experience has taught me how to appreciate what I have lost. Sometimes I ask myself what would I do if I ever get a chance to see the world again just for a week. In fact, I feel all the people in this world should be deprived of the ability to see and hear just for a few days in their adult life so that they would appreciate the manifold blessings in their senses. The momentary disability would help them understand the real values of their life and appreciate the world around them. Perhaps I think I can best illustrate this by imagining what I would like to do if I am ever granted a wish to see the world again for a week. If I by some kind of miracle regain my sight for a week, naturally I would want to see things that have become dear to me through my years of darkness.
First of all, I want to see the faces of my children and wife whose gentleness and kindness have given a special meaning to my life. I want to look at their eyes and read their faces carefully. I want to hug them tight as though we are meeting for the first time and celebrate our first visual contact together. During the next few days, I want to take my family to those places where I had been before when I had sight. I want to show them those places I had seen before and revive the old memories I had created in those places.
First, I shall take them to my village in Chengmari under Samtse Dzongkhag where I grew up as a child. I shall show them those vast paddy fields and the banks of Sibo Khola, the small brook that runs along the edge of the village where I used to play with friends. For the next couple of days, I shall take them down to Gai Khurey, below Sorcheng where I stayed with my father for a couple of months when I was about 8. I shall take them around and show them those places where I used to play as a child. I also want to see those beautiful orange orchards across the slopes below the highway where I had seen saplings being planted when I was there. I want to show them the location where we had our tent-house and where my father used to work. Then on the way up, I want to stop at Bunagu in Chukha where I had stayed for a few months when I was about 7. I want to take them around those sites where I used to play.
Finally, I shall take them to Tashi La in Wangdue Phodrang where I had spent the final days of my sighted life. It was here where I lost my sight. The ropeway that connects Chhuzomsa and Tashi La, the beautiful villages and those green forests that surround the places all hold special memories of my life. I shall take them around, showing them those sites that still hold a special place in my head.
I also want to see the faces of my teachers and friends who have helped me shape my life. By the time I return home from the week-long site-seeing trip, I will have fully relived most of my past and created additional memories to take forward. On the last night, I shall once again look at the faces of my children and my wife for the last time. I don’t want to see them cry. I want to take the memory of their cheerful smiles with me when I return to my own dark world. I am sure they would learn to be appreciative of all the faculties they are blest with and to make full use of them to make their life special and meaningful.
Only when darkness closes in, you would realize that the world you were living in was more beautiful than you had thought. So please do not take things for granted. Make use of what you have to make your life meaningful. You have many blessings to be appreciative of.
By Amrith Bdr Subba
The writer is a visually challenged counselor at the Youth Center Division, Dept. of Youth and Sports under Ministry of Education.