My disability journey has not just opened my world to different and diverse perspectives, but also to a set of very very interesting people.
My first interaction with Divyanashu was post the marathon run. I got a message on Facebook and his profile picture had him with Senior AB...I was'nt sure how to react to that!
The message contained the usual congratulatory messages and telling me how amazing I was (I absolutely know that!!). He runs a nonprofit organization which promotes adventures sports for People with Disabilities, was blind and was into adventure and outdoor sports ...all in the same sentence, and wanting to get in touch.
Our conversation started as extremely polite, which lasted for about five minutes. We broke ice when I asked him if he grew drugs to fund his NGO(he’s confirmed he does’nt). We eventually discovered we were both mad people and had the same crazy sense of humor...pretty much cut out of the same cloth!
Recently he travelled to Bangalore and we decided to meet. He was to travel straight from the airport and I was to meet him for lunch.
Of course much after confirming the plans, realization strikes!!
He's going to uber, and I’d probably need to give directions ...how do I pick the call? Well let's say if we manage that, how do I direct him through the stairs.... What if I fall and he falls too... And then of course how do I eat? Well I can't feed him... Way too many minor details to consider!! So of course Bindu was invited for lunch.
While I got ready to meet him, I thought does it matter if I did make the effort, how's he even going to appreciate it? (Vain women I know!). I could be in my PJs and he wouldn’t know.
The first impression of meeting him was just sheer warmth! You know when you meet someone, and it just clicks and seems like it’s not the first time you are meeting them.
While we steered our way through the restaurant, my thought runs through how this would be first interaction with someone who is blind, there are no reference points. In hindsight, it’s what someone goes through when they meet me for the first time - no reference point!
We sat down, and ordered our drinks and food. It was interesting to watch, because he just got on fine, as far as he was nudged in the right direction. The conversations flowed, and I realized I had so many questions.
Do you see with more than your eyes? Do you meet someone and feel their aura? Do you visualize things? Is it difficult? And the one question I did not ask, but wish I did, how does he decide what to wear (he lives alone)?
Divyanshu turned blind overnight when he was nineteen due to glaucoma . I'm thinking that it could be as disturbing as to lose a limb. I'm not sure what it feels like, but like any devastation in our lives, we eventually still cope. The beauty of his story is that he chose to still lead his life on his terms. He is India's first blind solo glider and like that wasn't enough he recently tandem cycled 500 plus kms across Leh-Ladakh... Gobsmacked aren't you!?
While I was processing this entire new world, I felt maybe it was a great world, where you meet someone and you’re not judging them for their looks or for what they wear... You truly just listened and liked someone or not for what they said or what you felt... You cut out the noise and preconditioned notions.
It's a world of listening, touching and feeling... In a sense the perfect world - a true human world.
Divyanshu spoke about being a very visual person; he creates pictures of everything in his head. I loved what he is said "everybody in my world is beautiful.. I imagine everything to be very beautiful"
What a beautiful thought!
Our eyes functionally let us see, but I guess to really see and feel you need more than your eyes, you need a beautiful soul and a big canvass to paint whatever picture you want.
You can choose to make it as beautiful or as ugly as you want...