The eyes are the windows to one’s soul. The eyes also grant us sight, the ability which we use to observe the magnificence of this very world we live in. Sight, itself, is a gift from God.
Have you ever wondered how it feels like to live without this gift? Ever imagine what the world would be? We could, of course experience this by closing our eyes, and try to imagine colours without actually seeing them. Now imagine opening your eyes and see the same dark space. Void. Nothing. Scary, is it not?
Selena (not a real name) was born normal. She was a bright kid, cheerful as any kid you can find in playgrounds and kindergartens. One day, her sight was taken away from her. At a tender age of four, young Selena was forced to relearn everything that she knew. Reading is no longer about observing alphabets in order. Walking becomes much harder. But Selena was everything but weak.
I had the chance to meet Selena in a program. The first time we met, she was wearing a red cardigan paired with a pair of beige slacks. Simple, casual and neat. Although she speaks fluent English, she prefers to joke in Bahasa. During the short span of seven days, I had the chance to converse with her on several topics and learned a great deal of lessons from her.
One of her aspirations is to propose an exclusive body to the United Nations which will fight for the rights of disabled people. According to her, amidst the fights for rights, the voice for disabled people are often drowned by more popular movements such as feminism and diversity movements. “Not that it is bad, but I cannot stand the fact that disabled people’s rights are not fought for with the same level of intensity as other movements,” she said.
Selena also expressed her concern on how people often treated her with unnecessary pity. She may be blind, but inside, she is the same soul with dreams and favourite books. “I also hope people will start asking me on how I go through daily activities like how I use my laptop and stuff. Just get to know me so that we can understand each other better,”
Albeit unable to see, Selena loves oil painting. “ I love touching them. Oil paintings have a certain feeling to them.” She asked me for a painting after knowing that I am good at drawing. Sadly, I know nothing of oil painting, so I drew for her using drawing pens, a scene from the Titanic movie when Rose asks Jack to draw her like one of Jack’s French girls. She cannot feel the lines drawn by a pen, but I hope it would touch her heart as a simple gesture of gratitude from me, a way to thank her for teaching me the meaning of perseverance.
Before we bid our goodbyes, I took the chance to ask her three simple questions. Here are the questions and her answers.
“How do you perceive colours?”
“I am not born blind, so I kind of remember how color looks like,”
“How do you perceive shapes?”
“Shapes is kind of hard. For example, if you want to say that a ball is round, you need to give something that has a similar shape for me to touch.”
“How do you perceive your parents?”
“I actually still remember how my parents look like. Maybe they might have wrinkles all over their faces since they are older now. Probably, I do not really know.” She laughed.
Selena is now waiting to register as a student at one of the most prestigious university in United Kingdom. For the time being, I would like to share a few simple steps we can start practicing on creating a more friendly environment for disabled Malaysians:
- Never use any parking spots that are reserved for disabled people.
- Avoid blocking pathways or ramps designed to be used for disabled people.
- Prioritise disabled people when using the lifts.
Always remember that disabled people are also human. Treat them kindly like you would to everyone else. Let us all change for the better.
Written by,Ahmad Nuruddin Bin Azhar
Edited by,Nur Izzah Arrina Binti Muhamd Nasir