I wanted to be a scribe (writer) for a visually challenged person for quite a few years now. So when the opportunity came along to be a writer for someone, I happily volunteered and the experience was nothing short of overwhelming for me!
She is Bebi Patel and is a native of Dhule in Maharashtra. She came all the way from Dhule to Nasik and then from Nasik to Pune, in order to undertake the exam. So, I as her writer, both of us undertook the exam for Junior associate in State Bank of India.
Earlier, when I reached the exam centre, there was already a sea of people there. We, being complete strangers to each other until that moment, there are the first challenge, to find her in the frenzied crowd.
I called her and asked “how do I find you?“,
she replied “ I am at Gate no. 3 and I have my hand raised in the air”.
I saw a solitary hand raised amidst the crowd of hundreds and made my way towards it through the crowd. I found her standing there with a few of her friends who were also visually challenged. The time was ticking and we had to enter the exam hall, I told her the same and grabbed her hand. I ran through the frenzy of finding our seating arrangement and depositing my phone, wallet and bag. Holding her hand, I was making my way to our seat through the passage between the parallel rows of chairs. As I swiftly passed across the chairs in that space, she stumbled at one slightly oddly placed chair. It was a moment of realization for me, not each one of us enjoys the privilege of being able to see the world around us in its shape, size and colours. I decided to instruct her about every small detail henceforth.
Sitting at our place, we still had some time before starting our exam. I asked her about her family and came to know that her husband is a visually impaired person too, who is hawker and this is how the family earns its living. She has two children, a 3-year-old daughter and a 7 months old son! A seven months old son, whom she had to leave back at home for writing this exam! Her elder brother, who is also visually impaired, works in railways at CST, Mumbai. Getting to know that about her family, I was hoping and praying inside, for the children to be with no problem of visual impairment. I wanted to ask her that but could not really muster enough courage.
After a minute’s silence, I just managed to fight the frog in my throat and said,” I pray for the children’s health”, she just smiled and replied, “they are alright, they can see!”
I guess we did pretty well with our exam and as we came out of the exam hall, I escorted her back with her friends. While bidding goodbyes, she did not forget to wish me safe travel back home.
This whole experience, as stated earlier, left a sense of fulfilment in me. To be the smallest of help to someone is a matter of joy and content. I could not help but wonder while leading our imperfect lives; there is so much that we can set right. How, at least once in a while, we should tick off that one thing from our ‘to do lists’ to live a more fulfilled life!