“Chaitu, you failed in three subjects!” my friend told it straight to me.
I had phone, in my ear, the last sip of my coke, felt like a basket-ball in my throat, which made me harder to swallow.
I couldn’t trust this guy. I went running to the nearest internet cafe. A man stood there with his cooling glasses, on.
Why does this man need cooling glasses, when he is not in sun? I made my mental comment, and ran into the internet cafe, desperately waiting for a system.
Then came this cooling glasses guy to me, and he asked, “will you,…”
“Please right now, I am busy.” I cut him out bluntly, thinking that he was a guy, who is not acquainted with computer.
Then, the internet cafe owner came to me, “Brother, he is blind.” he whispered.
I felt really sorry for him, I should say sorry to him, I thought. Then this result thought pumped into mind.
People tell that, when you hit the saturation point in your life, it feels like you have entered a street with dead end. You feel mindlessness and your body literally goes cold and numb. I felt that, my eyes went wet. To my despair, I rechecked my results, but they were the same.
I badly wanted to escape this situation. How do I face mom, dad and relatives? Now where my future is headed, no company will recruit me. (I was in my second year of Engineering)
Then this blind man came walking pass me, tapping his stick towards the ground.
I went to him, “I am sorry, I was in…” I told him, and if I spoke, I would have cried.
“No need to, you didn’t do it wishfully, it happens” he replied soothingly.
“Where do you want to go? I can help you.” I told.
“Nandi Circle.” He told. (I am from Tirupati)
I caught his hand, he folded his stick, and started walking with me. My eyes, were like crackers, with tears to explode.
“I am kasesvarayya”, he introduced himself to me, with a handshake.
“Chaitanya” I shook his hand.
“What do you do?” Kasesvarayya asked me.
“Anna, engineering, HSIT second year” I replied.
“Oh! It’s a good college..” Kasesvarayya replied.
I couldn’t control my tears, and I started weeping like a kid, on the road.
“Which department?” he asked. I was still weeping. I don’t want him to know, that I was crying.
“Which department?” he asked once again.
“Electronics and Communications.” I told in a tone, to conceal my despair.
“Are you weeping brother?” He sounded considerate of me.
“No, anna,.” I told.
“I could feel your hands, they are cold and trembling. What happened?” Kasesvarayya asked.
I was shocked, how did he.
“We have reached Nandi Circle.” I told.
“Brother, tell me.”
He opened his stick, and was in for a discussion.
“Okay! Anna I gotta leave” I told him and started walking. I turned back, and saw him. He was removing his violin, and his breakfast box, by sensing it individually.
Then I was home. Emotional drama went for few days.
Some commented that, I was not that boy, as I was in my tenth class.
Some enquired if I had an affair with a girl or had got into drinking and drugs.
To be frank, I wasn’t into these things. It was Engineering, I just got wings and went a little higher, neglecting my studies.
If I don’t prove myself once again, I will be nowhere in my future. A sudden thought came one sleeping night.
I started studying like hell, and in the next semester, I ended up being the topper of my class. (It’s that simple). People applauded me, praised me, and I almost became a war hero in my small, so-called community.
Then there entered a dangerous bug in my mind. I have to prove myself to others that I am no less than others.
The feeling of happiness has vanished, and all my head was filled with pride, dominance, hatred and jealousy. I ended up being the topper in my next semester also, but there never were feelings named happiness and passion. It went on.
One day, that one day, I could tell that God (not with body) has shown me a path, to bliss. I met Kasesvarayya, on the road again.
“Hi, anna” I wished him, making my preparations to tell him, who I was.
“Chaitanya. How are you brother? Are you all right, now?” He reciprocated, and I was shocked of his stunning memory.
“Perfectly”, there was pride in my voice. I have felt that.
“How did you recognize me?” I asked him.
“Just like that, I notice people by their touch and voice, that’s how I am used to.” He replied with humbleness.
“Come let’s have a coffee.” I invited him, he agreed.
Then we went to nearby Tea shop. As the Chai wala and Kasesvarayya were already friends, they started chatting, and I started noticing them, and making nods in particular intervals.
Then I took his hand, to drop him near Nandi circle.
“Anna, do you play Violin?” I asked him.
“Ya, I am learning, do you want to listen?” He sounded enthusiastic.
“I am all ears” I smiled, I wanted to tell him that, even I too play piano, and play much better. I wanted to dominate him. I thought he would play some basic notes. He took his violin, and started out playing, “Mahaganapathim”
I was moonstruck, by his playing. It sounded perfectly perfect. I still couldn’t forget that moment, and I can even recollect each and every moment, that time. He completed playing.
“How was it Chaitu?” He enquired.
“I am moved, anna. Simply superb, unbelievable.” I said, still moonstruck.
“Thanks Chaitu. But some notes, I have missed, and played it wrong, I don’t have proper notes, so.”
He was unsatisfied, I could feel that.
My ego, demon was killed by his sincerity and humbleness. At that particular time, I don’t know why I felt that, but I felt it. They are not the people, who are to be helped on some independence day, or on your birthday or some other day saying that, I have spent there, showing kindness. They expect self respect.
I have to help him, what so it happens.
Then I googled a bit about Braille, but I was completely confused, because it was completely different.
The other day, I went to him and asked,” Anna, can you teach me Braille?” I asked.
“Why, Chaitu?” he asked, with smile.
“I was confused yesterday, I wasn’t able to catch, what is 1,2,3..from left and 1,2,3.. from right.” I was like a CID.
“Oh! It’s simple. Braille is written from right to left, and read from left to write.” He continued.
“Like, Parsi.” I told.
He explained me total gist, of what Braille is, and I could figure it out writing, by seeing the numbers. I took home, all that numbers.
Mission: Finding Granny
“Nani, can you tell me, the Swaras of Mahaganapathim?” I asked, as sudden as that.
“Why?” Nani, became Jasoosi.
“I need it.”
Then she wrote it to me.
“Whole night, I spent punching holes according to respective Swaras on the piece of cardboard. It was around 3 in the night, I completed writing. By night I was able to figure out letters like s,r,p,a,m,n and some letters, without seeing them, and A was common in all of them.
The next day, I went with my piece of cardboard and compass, and handed him.
“What is this?” Kasesvarayya asked.
“It’s the Swaras of Mahaganapathim” I told him, I had a sense of satisfaction.
He started reading them, with his indexed fingers, and started humming according to the Raga.
He immediately got up to get his violin.
“Anna, let me get it.” I told.
“No, I have to. Because, I am used to pick and place things in my way, so please don’t mind.” He was straight. My mom’s lecture of “how to keep you room neat” has never worked, but with this single sentence, I was able to get it.
I used to help him, with the notes by dictating and sometimes I helped him memorizing. He was quick.
And final day, of his show arrived.
I got to know, that he was playing in a small congregation of a local merchant meet. It was a very small meet, and his show didn’t even matter.
He went onto the stage, and he played like, he was in his own bliss. His grace worked, and I started recording his performance. People gave him a standing ovation, and I too stood up. He also thanked me on stage. I felt happy after a very long time. (truly happy-ego.)
To this day, I am his best friend, and I am beside him, when I am writing this. My Inclusion Moment started with preserving his SELF-RESPECT and SYNERGISING OURSELVES.
This short story is an entry in the ManipalBlog.com writing contest 2014, in support of India Inclusion Summit 2014 to be held at Bangalore on November 29th and 30th. To know more about the idea of an #InclusiveIndia follow @IndiaInclusion on twitter or visit their Facebook page at India Inclusion Summit.
About the author: Mr. Venkat Chaitanya is a resident of Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh.