Yesterday was just a regular day with me returning home in a BMTC Volvo bus. It is generally a short commute and I usually spend my time observing people around me. Euphemisms and sniggers can be generated for the previous statement but a fact nevertheless despite the accuracy of the said euphemisms. It was then that I observed two young men boarding the bus at a stop.
Both these men were blind and were leading each other. They navigated themselves around the bus mainly through touch and memory and found themselves window seats facing each other. Maybe all they had was partial blindness but I felt as if the guy facing me could sense the light coming in through the big plate sheet glass windows. They were chatting to each other and listening to audio notes from their cell phones.
However what I noticed most was their expressions. These two men, not the most handsome of men had the most remarkably colorful expressions. They had emotions, idiosyncracies, all the quirks that are wrung out of us sighted people through the years of conformity. Most of us had facial or expression quirks when we were kids. I had them too. We were either scolded, beaten, ridiculed or therapied out of them. We had to do it lest our peers and families made fun of us. We all had to conform to the standards of socially accepted facial behaviour.
But these blind men, they were not subjected to such negativities. Their world was much more simpler. Maybe they had people ridiculing them for their facial quirks but they themselves have not seen a standard to conform to! Maybe they lived alongside peers who were as blind of facial quirks as they were. Maybe in their struggle to survive in a world that is getting increasingly defined by sight they did not feel like bothering to conform to these social strictures?
We often pity the blind. They deserve our care and understanding but they deserve our envy too. We live in a world rampant with charades. Appearances are everything, all around us. In a world that lives and thrives based on the visual stimuli the one who knows to deceives the eyes the best wins. Everyday we wear masks of different sorts. Masks of stoicness amidst pain, masks of gaiety amidst sorrow, masks of compassion amidst apathy. The eyes that are supposed to be the windows of the soul have been shuttered, closed thanks to the years of social training imparted to us. Indeed it is considered a virtue to be a bastion of cold aloofness. Anybody showing emotions is considered weak. Honesty is considered to be a sin.
Frankly the world of the blind must be so much more beautiful and colorful. There nobody might be judged for their external attributes. Who cares for the gender, race, color or age when a person is judged not by their appearance but merely by their actions? A world in which a man is free to let his eyes be an actual window to his soul and his face a living canvas portraying the story that is his emotion! Such a world seems to be so wonderful. Maybe we, the sighted ought to learn a few lessons from the blind.