It was a usual scene -- a park teeming with joggers. Every sphere of life-- i.e. childhood, youth, and old age—was scattered all over the park. Sweating faces, sloshing paunches, and swift legs ruled the early morning hour of the park.
I was there sitting on a bench after taking a light stroll. Since, I was in the middle of the oval garden, I was able to reckon rounds that people were taking. Some took 20 laps of swift walk, while some preferred to only 5.
After a while a couple with an almost 10 years old boy entered the park and started their rounds of health. Both parents had clutched hands of the boy from either side. The boy was walking in the middle of his parents. They took one lap and completed second and went on. When this family crossed my eyes after the third lap, a little girl of six caught my attention. She was insisting her grandfather on playing football with her. It was obvious from grandpa’s gestures that due to his arthritis, he was trying to persuade the little lady to be confined to his lap. Grandpa tried to veer her attention from football and pointed his finger toward the sky to show a flock of birds. And I assumed (the constant stare of the girl toward the sky helped me assume) that the old chap conjured up a story then and there to placate the football passion of the girl. The girl lost into the story; I, into the Sky.
“How vast the bosom of the Sky is?” I thought. The decoration of the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars weaves a spectacle for the eyes. There is very hardly any roof in this world as sumptuously accoutered as the Sky. I was enthralled at the grandeur of nature.
My attention pertaining to the glorification of the nature broke by the footsteps coming toward a bench beside mine. It was those three who had entered a while ago. After the tiring rounds of walk, they had come to relax on the bench. For some time they relished the breathtaking view around the park, before being disturbed by the honking horn of an ice-cream-man. The child tugged on the sari (a dressing piece of cloth for women in India) of her mother to let her know his demand of an ice cream cone. Mother complied with his demand and bought him a cone of ice cream.
I wondered why he himself didn’t reach out for the ice cream trolly, like many children do?
On closer examination, I came to know that he was unable to see. That is why his parents were helping him to finish up the ice cream. After devouring the delicious dollops, he rested his back on the rear part of the bench. His translucent eyeballs rolled from one corner to the other corner of his eyes tracing every sound that happened in the atmosphere. In fact the eyeballs were corresponding with the directions his ears gave him as to a sound. He was continuously active with his two organs to explore the surrounding he was in.
“What an irony!” I thought. “There is so much of color around him, but he was deprived of that.” My heart got filled with sympathetic feelings for him. I felt vicarious pain for his inability to see things. I cursed every thing from God to nature for the injustice done to this little soul.
With feelings of despondency, I made an approach to converse with him by asking his name. (His father erased skepticism in his eyes for a stranger’s voice by addressing me as uncle and told him to tell me his name.)
“Sumit” he sounded sonorously.
“In which class do you read, Sumit?” I asked.
“Do you have any hobbies?”
“He sings very well, has won many music competitions too.” Informed his father.
“Oh! Is it?” “… Then why no have a music treat from you?”
The boy was shy to start with, but once he started singing (upon his mother’s encouragement), I was spellbound. The voice of his had a glimpse of aplomb, which can surmount any difficulties of life; the shimmer in his eyes had grains of grit, that can pierce any citadel of success; and the whole body of his had elements of ebullition, which can indefatigably encourage him to stay optimistic in life.
The song, which was a hymn, ended and ‘bravo’ spelt out of my mouth. His parents clapped.
The pleasant duration of morning was passing by quickly and the Sun was becoming a little bitter to bear. All three rose to take leave, I insisted to walk for some distance with them. Halfway our journey, I found a grocery shop. I went into it and bought a packet of chocolates for Sumit. I came out and gifted the packet to him in appreciation of his entertaining performance for me. He received the packet with élan; he was ecstatic. I could feel his emotions through his smiling lips. After a few minutes, we parted ways.
I was alone and strolling back to my destination. Some notions started springing up in my mind. They were troublesome for me. These views were about my prior contemplation about the kid. I thought why I felt pessimistic about the existence of the kid. The boy was full of life and I had described his life as drab and bland. Why I thought downside about the boy, only because he couldn’t see. Is it that only people with ability to see have the right to enjoy the gifts of life? No, life can be enjoyed even without the ability to see.
Enjoyment of life has nothing to do with the ability to see, but to the ability to feel. If one can feel life, then one is alive, otherwise dead. But this is not the situation with the ability to see. One can miss the light of eyes and at the same time enjoy the life to the full. I am not sure whether I was dead, when I thought hopeless things about the lad, but am sure about now that I am alive. Because, I am enlightened and know something more as to life than I did an hour or so before.
Finally, it dawned on me that I was utterly wrong in assessing his plight. And the acknowledgement of mistake was with a guilt feeling. That day I promised myself that I won’t fell sorry for any disabled person in the future, for this belittles the importance of their struggle and courage that they use to lead this life. The crux of my thinking session was that the moment I feel that somebody is disabled; I make myself disabled too. Because, this way I manifest my disabilities to comprehend the import of their existence in encouraging us (the abled ones) to conquer the impediments of our lives without having any grievances. Anyways life is a learning curve and everyone is learning something or the other by every passing moment. I have learnt a lesson too that I will remember until I die err as long as I live.