Crippled from Eyes – Short Story

Crippled from Eyes


Inside my Heart, I keep no cries,

for I am a Crippled from Eyes 

 

“Crippled from eyes”; yes, that was the title he was awarded with in his very first semester and it remained his identity till the last day of his stay in the university. Even I myself didn’t know his real name either despite highly urging to meet him for no reason as such. I don’t remember any single day when he would have responded in a negative manner by taking offence upon hearing those words for him. He always returned a smile in exchange for those harsh words. God knows what soul he was carrying. Yes, Saad was blind…blind since childhood.

Saad was one of those people who strikingly attract your attention in those initial glances when you encounter them for the first time. It wasn’t because of his typical blind persona – which was a pair of square shaped shades on his eyes and a pliable stick in hand – instead, he had some sort of dazzling charm in his very existence that would invite people to develop a perennial memory of him that leads one to keep thinking about him later on in life. The way he would show his sprightliness in the monotony of routine days and the way he would move with a perfectly calculated tread unlike other blind people who, most of the times, make use of their cane sticks to locate the concrete path for walking, are more than enough to explain the definition of the word I used as “charm”. Perhaps that was the very reason why he became the center of attention in the campus in such a short span while other blind handicaps were treated normally like they usually are –no such approbation in the society.

It was my first day at the university when I saw him for the first time. He was wearing the same orange jumper that he wore throughout the semester; and it had kind of become his signature outfit as one could easily recognize him from quite a distance due to the perkiness of the jumper’s color. I guess it was the terror of being ragged that kept me from giving him a rather long gaze, but I certainly did catch a sight of him that day.

Days kept passing by and I would see him around my department daily. Whenever I saw him, I always yearned to go and talk to him, but I didn’t know what was stopping me. Was it the fear that he might feel humiliated if I start asking him those typical questions which a blind person would possibly be hearing since the very start of his/her childhood, or was it the fear that I wouldn’t be able to make him understand my questions because of his incapability of sight –yes that was a pretty absurd logic – which kept me from going to him. I just didn’t know which was true, either of these facts had some roots inside me.

It was the mid of our first semester when the audition for dramatics was opened. I also got myself enrolled in it as I was quite an enthusiast for the whole ‘acting’ thing. On the day of the audition, I, being scared out of my gut, yet excited, entered the hall where the event was being held. Upon my turn, I climbed up the stage and started babbling the script like some sort of a trained parrot who jabbers some crammed verses on a roll but then, somehow, I managed to escape the embarrassing situation as soon as I could. God knows what comfort seeps through you when you successfully escape such an awkward situation. Anyway, I got myself seated, expecting to witness some exceptional performer who proves himself in front of the cruel hooting crowd.

Many candidates came and went, but no one could show enough potential to be called an ‘exceptional’ one. The whole hall dropped into complete silence when they saw a blind boy of around twenties making a sound by striking the edge of his cane on the floor to locate the path to the stage. Yes, it was Saad. No one seemed inclined to believe the fact that the next candidate was a disable person who had never seen a single dot in his whole life of twenty years and it was him who was going to perform on this stage. Many questions were certainly popping in audience’s minds as well in mine, and only the person standing on stage could answer those.

Saad embarked the stage and stood in the middle of it. Judges themselves got confused enough as they were stuck in the dilemma of sending him back or taking his audition based on his auditory experiences of life. Judges soon arrived at the conclusion that this man should be given a chance –as physical haleness wasn’t ever a part of the criteria. Since the frail looking boy standing in front of the judges wasn’t capable of reading a script, the judges asked him to act like a mentally ill man who was having some sort of hysterical attacks. The boy on the stage stopped for a while. In that brief moment of silence, everyone in the hall had made up their mind with surety that the boy was going to explode into an awkward situation within some seconds – and the boy started making some maniacal sounds at the peak of his voice, jabbered some meaningless words, accompanied with illogical gestures of his hands just like a typical mental patient would do. The pitch of the sound he dragged his voice to, the use of those senseless gestures in air with illogical words and the way he presented himself, scared of his surroundings, like most of the insane people feel, filled his performance with a high crest of realism. The boy was quiet now as he had finished performing his act, but the hall was still silent. Nobody was able to step out of the hypnotizing environment that the boy had just created. I myself could feel that drill of enchantment piercing through my mind for quite a long duration. The mysterious environment that poised between believing and unbelieving of whether what just happened was real or not got suspended when one of the judges stood up and initiated long round of applause for the boy. Immediately, the entire hall could be seen clapping for that feeble creature who had first given them an impression of frivolousness. It was the first detailed experience that I had with Saad. At the end of the day, I knew that I was right; the boy HAD something in him.

Since that day, people started visiting the Dramatics workshops on regular basis just to surprise themselves each time by this new entry of a versatile performer. Saad was still known by the title “Crippled from eyes”, but it was no more pronounced as a mockery, but rather a respect could be felt in those words. His response for that label was still the same – a smile reflecting humbleness.

I happened to befriend Saad due to those Dramatics workshops and we would often talk for hours in group sittings, but I still was never bring able to muster up enough courage to ask him those questions that I had, and still, desperately wanted to ask. “How do you dream?”, “How do you identify things like money and things that can only be distinguished by their colors?”, “What are you going to do after the university?” and most importantly I wanted to ask him “How does it feel to be a blind?” I guess there were more questions than he could answer.

Time kept passing by. Both of us continued to cover the successive semesters with acceptable GPAs. It was the last day of our university life when Saad and I were sitting in the ground having a little routine chit chat. Though I was giving him an effective response, my mind was somewhere else; entangled between the hesitancy of either asking him that last question that I have aforementioned above or not. I somehow summoned up the courage and asked him “Saad, how does it feel to be without eyes?” I tried my best to make it sound polite. The frequency with which my heart would usually beat had indeed amplified for some moments. He fell silent for a few seconds before saying anything. One could easily judge, from his facial expressions and the way he was finding some suitable answer for that question, how he felt about his disability. Then he replied by pointing towards his heart and a smile on his lips “Who needs eyes when you can see the whole universe from here”. I was at such a loss of words that I just felt myself smiling; and nothing else.

I got a job in a multinational company some years after graduating from the university and moved abroad. Saad started his career as a professional actor and I still sometimes come across his photos on a social networking website now and then. The cut of a smile appears on my lips whenever I see his photo and a blow of nostalgia sways through my mind. Now I wish that one day somebody asks me “Have you seen perfection and immortality?” so I could promptly answer “Yes I have seen both …in a single soul”.

Sheharyar Arif. (Content Writer int3ger)

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