Its been precisely a week since I’ve walked the corridors of Tata Institute of Social Sciences. One word which students cling on to, once they enter campus is sensitization, which one has the privilege of being subject to, with every stride, with every step, taken.One particular incident which will perhaps be etched in my mind forever, is one that happened today morning.
One of our group activities included dividing the class into various groups, where one of the participants was blindfolded, one had his hands tied and the other had his ears plugged with cotton. The group together, was responsible for coming up with a logo painted on paper, along with a slogan/jingle, in order to depict the ideology of the group, in totality.
The hyper active me volunteered to be blind folded. The entire activity of coordination and formulation of the logo and slogan took us about 15 minutes. Inspite of the policy of inclusion adopted by my group members, I was at a loss to find a medium to engage with the group. The loss of vision, the onslaught of blindness, even for a mere ten minutes was way more challenging than I could have ever imagined. I experienced the emotions of helplessness, irritation and frustration, all at one go. The difficulty of communicating with the hearing impaired(acting) and the physically handicapped(acting), also proved to be a cause of discomfort.
For quite some time after the exercise, I pondered over the activity and the impact it had on me. A sense of empathy towards the blind-definitely! A sense of belonging towards the issue of blindness-perhaps! The realization dawned that the issue of social inclusion is varied and has multiple facets to it. To bring an impaired human into the ambit of normalcy is a daunting task, nonetheless impossible. To converse with them, without having a mental block is however very much doable.
A quick googling of facts revealed that about 284 million people in the world are visually impaired, out of which 39 million are completely blind. One can only imagine the cumulative total of all individuals with some impairment.
Summing up, a small piece of verse!
Oh calamitous fate!
Of grim and bottomless pits
Of darkness in every breath
Of shadowy starless lives
Of somber raven nights
Commiseration I beg
Equity I demand
Doth thou hear
My shrieks,my cries
My dreams, my eyes!