If you have flown thousands of miles (as I have done) in different airlines, you will recognize this announcement.
'For our visually impaired passengers we have safety instructions cards in Braille....'
The tone of this announcement is cursory, as if she is completing a routine task and you listen to it equally casually and then both of us go back to what we were doing...
Except this time it was different.
There was a blind man in the aircraft. Blind man was our co-passenger. He was sitting in the front row.
(Why do they seat the blind people in front row of the aircraft where there is no handle bar support. Without a hand support, the blind people are one turbulence away from falling down)
What is the purpose of safety instructions in Braille, I wondered. Can he feel the life jacket as is being demonstrated by the listless air hostess? Can he feel the bored expression on her face as she 'Blows' into the red tube on that jacket as in 'In case you need more air, please blow into the red tube' ? How will he know when the oxygen mask has fallen from the 'panel' above?
I had observed this gentleman earlier as he was being escorted by a friend to the departure gate. He was elegantly dressed in a blue jeans and a matching sky blue T-shirt. It was obvious that someone had adorned him with a lot of affection and care. He was wearing one of those belt pouches in which you carry the mobile phone.
He was talking very animatedly to his escort and the escort was also responding with equal elan. He had a serene smile covering his face and showing in his blind eyes. He was looking happy, contented. He was obviously in good hands.
I felt respectful seeing this gentleman exuding energy.
And a bit sad...
---How difficult it must be, I thought, to live your life without being able to see the beauty around us?
---To listen to those birds chirping at your window in the early morning but not being able to see them?
---To wake up with the Sun God and not being able to see the brilliance of his arrival?
--- To smell a great cup of morning coffee without seeing the golden brown coffee and to feel the smoothness of the coffee cup without seeing the glistening whiteness?
--- To not be able to see the innocent smile on your grand child's face?
--- or the warm welcoming look on your pet dog as you enter the home after a tiring day?
--- To feel the spring in the air and not see the hue of colours spread out by the nature?....
Suddenly I realized something...
How many of us, having good eyesight, see all the above? We sleep till the morning has passed and neither see the chirping birds (we don't even hear them, let alone see !) nor see the brilliance of the morning sun. Whether it is spring or summer, we go thru the motions day after day, nay, year after year and do not see even a single spring flower, do not see a single morning dew drop, do not see single leaf shed by the trees as they prepare for the new season. We don't see the love in our partner's eyes or the stress on our kid's face. We let the days turn into months and months into years without seeing a brilliant movie or without reading a single life changing book. We fight among ourselves without seeing the big picture that we are all in it together...
That blind man had a reason for not being able to see.
What reason do we have for our blindness?