I closed my eyes and walked around my room. The room I am so familiar with. I bumped into the corner of my bed, then I banged my head on the cupboard and finally, I fell down when my feet got tangled in the phone charging wire.

This was me trying to feel what blind people live like all life long. But trust me, they have better instincts than us, with all five senses intact. They can manoeuvre around a room much better.

I always went with my father to an Andh Aashram. He wanted to donate some money and have a meal with those kids who are denied the beauty of the sight. It was an experience to remember. They ate with such cleanliness, I was ashamed to see that I had spilt some Daal, while their area was spick and span. What amazed me was the songs they played for us later, the flute, the drums, the guitar. They were all so witty and had tremendous courage. They even told me what’s the exact time in seconds rendering me speechless. I felt sad to see the quality of the food was bland and highly unacceptable. The Daal was runny and the rice was coarse. I went to the manager and talked to him about the issue. It was a perfect example of how we, the ones blessed with all senses intact, treat the less fortunate ones. He told me that more than enough money came his way to buy better foods, but what was the need, they can’t see it. I gaped at him open mouthed.

Why do we treat the ones with disability below us? They are not disabled by choice. Why do we shun them instead of embracing them? Don’t they deserve some kindness and humility, a certain degree of respect? We literally make it so difficult for them to function in the world that they often confine themselves to the four walls of their homes. Especially we the “Indians” are such hypocrites that we are literally tight-lipped when such things are asked of us.

We even go to the limit of believing that any person with a certain disability does not deserve a life partner who is normal. The exclamation of oohs and aahs of pity and sympathy we give upon hearing a blind man getting married to a normal girl are proof of our narrow-minded thinking.

Recently I was listening to radio, and a man was singing the song “Dil ki awaaz bhi sun mere fasaane pe na jaa”, his voice had a soulful quality to it, I loved it. The RJ told the singer was a visually impaired person and interviewed him. The man was so lively and full of life, I heard the whole interview. He told his love story, that ended into a love marriage. Smiling the whole time I was ecstatic to know that he married a woman who was normal in all ways despite the objection of her family. At the end of the show, he made one request to his in-laws, “Please accept me and my family as your own, my kids are normal, they have been gifted with sight and they often ask about their maternal grandparents, please don’t devoid them of your love, even if you don’t accept me”. Tears welled up in my eyes upon hearing his message, his wife’s family was so angry at her for marrying a blind man, even though she was happy, with a loving husband who earned well and took care of her. Who had two beautiful kids? Is being different such a big crime ???

Can a blind person still become a medical doctor?

To answer this question, President Maurer invited Dr. Tim Cordes, a practicing physician completing his last year of residency, to appear on the agenda immediately preceding the presentation of the Dr. Jacob Bolotin awards. Dr. Cordes was a recipient of a National Federation of the Blind scholarship in 1995, and in the presentation that follows he speaks not only to the pioneering spirit of Dr. Bolotin, but to our current generation of blind pioneers who explore the new frontier in the twenty-first century. 

Seeing the disability and not the person is the worst thing that you can do to a blind person. People feel ashamed to be the friends of the blind. I had a classmate in school, her sister was blind. She shunned her sister and accused her of being born. She often told us that due to her all her family and friends avoid calling her to parties and outings. She was so offended with her sister being blind that she cursed her parents for imposing rules on her that she has to accompany her sister everywhere she goes and try to get her more social. The eye opener for her came on the day when her dress caught fire on Diwali and her blind sister smelled it before anyone, else did and she immediately emptied a water bucket on my friends head, saving her life.

The ones who are already isolated by birth or by accidents are kept in further isolation by us, the society. The max we offer them is our pity and sympathy. People are more than their conditions or the way they look. yes, blind people rely on touch and sound more. Even without sight, people have body awareness. Feeling fit and strong is a great feeling that makes one feel attractive. Getting compliments or enjoying the feel of a cashmere sweater can make anyone feel attractive. A good perfume can make them feel Sensual. They have all the feelings we do. They are just sightless, not heartless. People with disabilities are just people. They may do things differently but they are capable and individual.

Paridhi Verma, a 21-year-old visually impaired girl from Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, has surpassed everyone’s expectations and landed a job. There were many who thought that such a feat would be impossible for this young girl with her severe visual impairment. However, her recent offer from a micro-finance bank as a customer relationship executive has left everyone pleasantly surprised.

There is no need to “feel bad” for these people. Just treat them like you would treat any other person, scold them if they are rude, fight that blind friend just like friends fight and then make up later. Try to deliver them what they lack, a feeling of normalcy. Just because a person has a disability doesn’t mean doesn’t mean their life can’t be beautiful because they can’t see. It’s just a small part of who they are.

They have the same desires for safety, shelter, food, clothing, financial security, health, love, family and friends. They need compassion too, sympathy too, but at the right time and for the right reason.

What I feel proud of are movies like Kaabil, Koshish, Black and Sparsh, that make us see how able and how smart disabled people are at times. At least our Hindi Cinema is trying to make people more aware of the way we need to act with a disabled person.

I hope that no one has to go through the severe ache of such a disability, but if they do, I pray that they get all the support they can from society and its people.

Open your eyes, don’t be blinded by prejudices!

PS: A photographic documentation is of a fashion show by blind people for blind people.