So colourful. So vibrant. So alive.
Violet. Green. Orange. Yellow.
Colours; I loved them all.
But now one colour has become my companion.
One colour that is constant,
that has taken over and rules my life
because that’s all I see.
All the time.
My new companion.
The colour black.
Bright colours. I had always loved them, craved for them and I quenched this craving with clothes, gardening where flowers of different colours bloomed, decorating my house. Be it animate or inanimate objects, everything was splashed with the bright cheery colours of my choice.
But this wasn’t why colours ruled my life. This wasn’t why they were so essential. They were a part of something that was a part of me.
I created and drew and colours bought them to life.
That’s what I associated colours with.
It’s been exactly 2 months and 15 days since that accident. It took the colours from my life.
It took my life.
It made me blind.
I had loved to lie down on the terrace of my house, feasting upon the starry night sky – a vast expanse of black, brightened by the silver light of the stars. Even then I used to wonder why black is even a colour. All it does is absorb all the other colours, selfishly erasing identity, destroying their individuality. And I then focused on the cheery, silvery light of the stars ignoring the vast expanse of black which served as its backdrop.
How could I have known that my vision would be nothing but imitation of the night sky? And this time there would be no stars to brighten it. This time the colour it would absorb and destroy would be the colour of my life.
All these thoughts ran through my head in a never ending loop as I sat in my room in front of my canvas. Or that was what my mother had said when she had seated me in front of it and left me an hour ago. A painting canvas, with which I was familiar more than my own body, I couldn’t even figure out where it began and where it ended. Just like my own life right now.
In the past hour, all my attempts to paint had been in vain as my brush occasionally went off the canvas and met thin air. I bet there is more paint on the floor than the canvas set in front of me.
I threw my brush away as waves of helplessness and desperation crashed over me, blinded me yet again from the inside, as if I could be any more blind then I am already. Tears flowed freely and I did not wipe them. My face was one canvas I was familiar with, one familiar canvas I could at least paint with my own tears. But the irony is that even they are devoid of colours.
I heard someone knock. I quickly wiped the tears away. Suddenly a thought occurred to me. Maybe the person knocking was there the whole time and I never knew.
“How could I have known? I am blind after all”, I thought bitterly.
I heard my mother’s voice.
“Maya are you sure you want to go to the office?”, her soft voice reached my ears.
So it was her. Had she ever even left the room?
“Yes”, I replied.
“You know we can drop…..”, my mother began.
“No”, I said sharply. A bit too sharply. Silence filled the room.
I knew my parents were being, well, parents. I couldn’t make them understand why I had to do this on my own. I can’t explain the sense of freedom, the liberation from the helplessness, the desperation I felt when I did things on my own. I was going to rebuild myself, reconstruct my identity, and rediscover my individuality and this was the only way.
“But”, my mom began again.
“Mom”, I said. This time my tone was not sharp. Even though I did say “Please”, the word “Mom” was uttered in such a way that it was synonymous to it. Another heavy silence followed.
“Alright Maya”, my mother finally conceded.
An hour later, I was seated in the office bus. I could hear someone shouting, horns blaring and a tapping sound I couldn’t identify. That was what my life was right now.
An audio file.
As soon as I felt the bus vibrate, relief washed over me as the seat next to me was still empty. No co-passenger meant there would be no small talk, forced laughter, sympathetic smiles or pity being directed at me that I wouldn’t even be able to see. I could wallow in my misery in peace. Maybe my luck wasn’t that rotten.
Alas I had thought this too soon.
As soon as the bus stated moving, I felt someone slide into the empty seat next to me. The way the person sat, so heavily and the fact that I could smell men’s cologne confirmed my suspicion that my companion for the ride was male. Instinctively I shrank back, trying to appear as small as possible. I didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention, especially from the opposite gender.
“Hello. Good morning. I am Arya”
Great! I was really not in the mood of a conversation. And my morning had definitely not been good.
“Hello”, I mumbled.
“It’s a beautiful morning”, Arya started.
“Hmmm”, I mumbled.
How would I know? I would never see the sun rise, never know how beautiful it is to see it go up and spread its golden halo. And slowly even my memories about it would also fade, than I would be truly, utterly in the dark. I would be blind, all over again.
“Stop”, I screamed in my head. “Stop thinking”
“You know I am new. Today is my joining, my very first day”, Arya chirped, oblivious to my thoughts.
I did not respond. God how could a man sound so chirpy? I contemplated trying to make a menacing face but decided I may end up looking constipated or may end up mimicking some other expression which would be an indicator of some other emotion so I settled with turning my face away from him.
“So what’s your name?”, he questioned.
I felt irritated. Can’t he see I am not interesting in making small talk? Is he blind or what? I hope he didn’t think I was easy just because I am blind. I did not answer and kept my face towards the window hoping he would get the hint.
“I guess I shouldn’t have used that new toothpaste my mom bought. It’s making people speechless”, he stated morosely.
I didn’t know if he was joking or serious but I couldn’t help smiling.
“I am Maya”
“Ah. The toothpaste stays then. Nice to meet you Maya”, he responded, his tone light.
“So Maya you are new too?”
“It’s just my luck to be seated next to an old employee. I could really use some pointers you know”, he said in a cheery voice.
And that was the beginning. The next 40 minutes flew as we chatted. He was easy to talk to, very cheery and his jokes made me smile.
Of course people tend to be cheery when they have eyes right? I felt the dark thoughts whisper at the back of my mind.
When the bus came to a halt, I felt disappointed. I so did not wanted to go into my cabin where I would be alone with only my dark thoughts for company. I heard him get up and I reluctantly stood up.
“It was really nice talking to you”, I said, my tone thankful.
“The pleasure was all mine”, he responded.
I felt him get off the bus and I followed suit. Suddenly I heard someone shout.
“Hey you in the blue shirt”
I also felt Arya stop at the same time I did.
“Yes”, he replied.
“You forgot this”, the same voice shouted.
After a lot of shuffling, someone grumbling, horns blaring and a tap tap sound, I felt Arya approach me.
“So what was that about?”, I questioned out of curiosity.
“Oh that. Arrey it was nothing serious. I just forgot my walking stick. You know the red and black metal companion of mine. You must have seen it. It was right next to you. Let’s walk shall we?”
With that I heard the “tap tap” sound again. This time I recognized it. It was, unmistakably, the sound of a blind man’s walking stick.
– By Swati Rawat