Monday, April 30, 2007

blind and prejudiced

(an adaptation of Ruskin Bond's 'the eyes have it')

I met her on the train. Rather bumped into her on the train. It was easy for me considering my visual disability, but couldn’t she look where she was going? She was saying something now. Her voice tickled my ears and my senses alike. Silver anklets rustling in a gentle wind. My sense of hearing was strong, compensating for my blindness. I think I could imagine soulful poetry in the most harshest of noises ,poetry with which I attempted to fill the blackness devouring my eyes.
She was apologizing and asking me where I was going,both at the same time.
“In search of my never ending quest of misery” I thought to myself
“Andheri” I replied “You?”
“Vile Parle ” the anklet continue to rustle in my ears “I stay near Cooper’s hospital”
The sounds of the train enveloped a short silence bridging our conversation.
“So what do you do?” the anklets asked
“Other than bumping into people on the train?” .My attempt at humor evoked a gentle giggle. Sympathy?
“No seriously….u got in at VT right ?”
It was now that I noticed her perfume ,the mild lavender scent seemed to complement the gentle pleasantness of her voice.I tried to imagine how she looked. My thoughts drifted momentarily. Thoughts of another time ,a time before my hands preferred to hold tennis racquets and not walking canes. Thoughts of a crazy car crash on a wet monsoon night on the Bandra flyover. Thoughts of waking up to perpetual darkness in the ophthalmic ward of the KEM hospital.
“ Don’t talk much do you?”the anklets and the train’s chug-chug were involved in creating a pleasant symphony
I smiled ,not something I did often these days. “Oh I do talk…that’s one of the things I can still do” I was at my irritatingly self - depreciating best. Somehow my dark humor seemed not to register with her. “ I consider myself a writer ,freelance….write little poems and short stories.Enough to buy me bread and maintain a roof on my head. Still assume that I have a big epic in me waiting to be penned. Too lazy to go about it though”

“Wow ,that’s cool….and do you read a lot ?”She seemed genuinely interested and even more genuinely stupid. I mean ,how much literary material do you think was available in Braille.
“ Not much …don’t like heavy stuff” Me back to my cocky humorous self and her brains remaining as oblivious as could be.
She continued to talk to me.She seemed comfortable talking to me.
It was kind of strange though… most people by now would be attempting to disengage from the discomfort of having to talk to a handicapped person.

We talked for the better part of an hour. We talked about the climate.We talked about music .We talked about nothing in particular and we seemed to have talked about almost everything under the sky. When the train came to a halt at Vile Parle ,somehow I just wished she wouldn’t leave. She almost didn’t.
“Revathy , chalo ,Parle aa gaya”An elderly female voice called behind her playing spoilsport to my imagination. I realized that I didn’t even know her name till then.
“Well ,it was nice talking to you”she was going to say good bye “Most people I know find it uncomfortable to talk to a blind girl for more than a minute”

1 comment:

Amit said...

My hearing isn't as strong as the character, but i could almost hear the anklets rustling when you cut short the story. Nice one. -- AB