Last year, May 2022 we celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary. Hubby was quite particular that it was a celebration to thank the many people who were a part of our journey that spanned the 50 years.
I think we were remiss in that we missed out inviting and thanking a person who played a significant role in encouraging me to write.
That person was Mrs. Ingrid Albuquerque Solomon.
Many years ago when Ingrid was at ‘The Times of India’, I got a call from her, asking me to write a column on career related issues. I told her that I was a speaker and that I could not write. She said, ‘You write, I will hold your hand.’ How could I refuse such a generous offer? I wrote the first article and then the second, and Ingrid did hold my hand by giving me some very useful tips. By the time I reached the third, she said that I was on my own. I have often wondered what she saw in me for her to make that call. Did she see ability, aptitude, knowledge, someone who could say it like it is without fear? She titled the column ‘Challenger’.
Thank you Ingrid for building my confidence in writing.
I dedicate this blog in memory of Ingrid Albuquerque Solomon who passed away recently.
Dr Martin Pais, my first cousin’s son, passed away on April 21st. I attended the funeral service and was touched apart from many things, by the choir.
They were students from the Jyothi Seva School for the blind children.
The hymns were well selected and beautifully rendered.
And I thought — what is it that makes them raise their voices in prayerful song? What is it that allows them to be cheerful? They who have not seen their fellow human beings, the flowers, the trees, the bees, the worms. What do the sun, the moon, the stars look like to them? How would they know my sorrow or my smile?
And yet they praise God.
Sometime ago I wrote a blog on hands, soon thereafter a friend asked me to write on eyes. The thought remained at the back of my mind. I guess the time has arrived.
Let me start with a few eye-opening facts that may come as a surprise. (Courtesy Internet)
- The eyes are the second most complex part of our body, the first being the brain. 80% of all information and what we perceive comes through our eyes. And when the eyes and brain come together — it makes up our vision.
- Only 1/6th of the eye is exposed to the human world.
- A fingerprint contains 40 unique traits, the eyes contain 256. That is why ‘retina security scans’ are more secure.
- New-borns have audible cries but no tears to go along with them until about four months old.
- An average person blinks 5.2 million times per year — 17 times per minute and the average blink is 1/10th of a second.
- An eye has more than 2,000,000 working parts.
- Diabetes can be detected through eye exams.
- If one of our eyes were a digital camera it would have 576 megapixels.
Knowing these facts should be incentive enough to take care of our eyes, whether it is getting an annual eye check-up or wearing dark glasses to avoid harsh UV light — we need to do what it takes to keep our eyes healthy.
But is that all? The facts!
Anne Sexton a poet said, ‘I like you, your eyes are full of language!’ Our eyes have a language all their own — they speak volumes, they speak love, tenderness, longing, romantic love, caring or lust. What about dreamy, far away eyes, acquisitive or cunning, joyful and brimming with laughter.
Indeed, “the face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart” — Saint Jerome
A friend talking about her husband said, ‘His eyes have layers. I have learnt to understand the layers.’ I wondered what the layers were, but considering the context she probably meant aggressive angry fiery eyes, cold emotionless eyes, controlling eyes or don’t care eyes — what layers did he see in hers? I didn’t ask.
No wonder then that our eyes are the windows to our soul. My eyes reveal what my tongue could never express.
All of us have two eyes but no one has the same view. I remember this incident — One Independence Day I happened to hear the National Anthem being sung by poor malnourished children at a flag hoisting. Their voices rose in patriotism and fervour. I had tears rolling down my cheeks as I wondered, what the country or government had done for them. On the other hand these same children were a cause for laughter for a group of affluent teenagers standing on the periphery, probably with the same question of what had the country done for them and the stupidity of their patriotism. If only our eyes saw souls, instead of bodies however clothed they are.
How can I not quote Helen Keller in an article about our eyes? “The only thing that is worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” Sight is what you see with your eyes. Vision is what you see with your mind. In other words, true vision does not require the eyes. This was confirmed by Ian Jack who said of Ved Mehta a well-known blind Indian writer — “Ved Mehta proved that blindness is no obstacle to sparkling observation.”
I think the choir that sang for the funeral were blessed with vision and so are many others. I have two friends, one whose eyesight has weakened over the years and the other who has lost her eyesight. The first travels to different post offices in Karnataka if she knows that a First Day Cover is being released and conducts Harry Potter workshops and Quizzes; the other goes jogging with her attendant among other things. Vision no whining and lamenting.
Let me close with these quotes from Helen Keller that are strong messages and reflections:
“The chief handicap of the blind is not blindness, but the attitude of ‘seeing people’ towards them.”
“There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.”
For those of you who are interested in knowing more about the school for the blind, you may visit https://www.jyothiseva.org/