Food For The Soul

As most of you may (or may not) know, I am a dentist by profession. Currently, I’m interning in my university and dealing with the atrocities rendered due to bad oral hygiene. Anyway, this post isn’t about me cribbing about my teeth-related life. This post has something to do with an encounter I was lucky to have in the course of my internship.

Last month, while I was posted in the Department of Public Health, I had the opportunities to attend several dental camps, organised by the department itself. We went to different schools in and around our University. One of those schools was the Ahmadi School for the Visually Challenged, and that is what this post is about.

When we got off the dental mobile van and out into the crisp fall air, we were taken into this huge assembly room where we met with the Principal of the school- a kind, warm lady who went by the name of Ms. Firdaus Rahman. While our in-charge spoke with her on the how’s and what’s of the camp and other necessities, we stepped out of the room to a hustle and bustle in the lawn facing it. And what we saw, amazed us to our very core. The students were playing football, with their coach instructing them, and they were running after the ball like they could actually see it. That was moment number 1.

Blind School

After a little while, when the tables were set and the instruments were out, we were divided into singles and each of us met, inspected and instructed the children of the school. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t know if I would be able to fully justify the task I was assigned. But as soon as I met with the first student, Mohd. Kaif, I knew this was easier than dealing with regular kids.

The students of the school were so well-behaved, unlike other kids, and greeted, spoke to and thanked us, all the while smiling and eager to know more about dental hygiene. Among the various students I met, one of them was this albino kid, Sabir Khan, partially blind and possibly the cutest of them all! (And trust me, it was hard to choose, for they were all so sincerely adorable.)

Post checkups, we went for a stroll through the entire school, which had all the facilities the regular schools in the Uni don’t have. We came across the school’s music class, and had the honour of being present for a musical performance. As the teacher played the harmonium, a visually challenged girl played theĀ tabla, while three boys sang the Indian favourite, “Nanha Munna Rahi Hoon” (Son of India). And it had to be the most beautiful and moving thing I’d ever heard.

Next, we saw this textile class, where they weaved their own towels and used them. I felt so little, because that was something I had probably never thought of even trying to learn. And here, these little kids knew how to do things me being an adult had no idea of.

We even visited their computer lab, which probably fascinated me the most. A couple of students were busy typing away while their monitors read aloud each key they pressed. We witnessed a kid using a braille typewriter and even saw the braille printer that was used in the school.

We walked around the rest of the school, which also had the boys’ and girls’ hostels and chatted away with the students, who were equally excited to make acquaintanceship. We even took photos with the entire school and staff, who were hospitable beyond reason.

After the students were instructed to go back to class, we spoke to the principal for a little while, who told us how clever the students were. She narrated an incident were, due to winters, the school had requested the pro-Vice Chancellor for a van for the students’ transport. The Pro-V.C had a van from Tibbiya College fixed up and donated to the school, for which the school hosted a “Thank You” function for the generosity. Ms. Rahman delightfully told us how the students felt up the van and exclaimed, “Hatao yaar, ye toh second hand hai!” (Forget it, this is second hand!)

As we bid farewell to the school, and travelled back to our college, a sense of happiness and overwhelming emotion took it’s toll. It was beautiful and aching at the same time. The fact that people who are special in their physical or psychological attributes, are more fun-loving and living lives to their fullest. I remember while we were asking kids what they wanted to be when they grew up, among the many responses, my favourite was “Radio Jockey”. That is something us “normal” people don’t even think twice about because of the fear of society. These kids wanted to live every little bit of their lives and we fear the worst if we even think of doing something outside of a monotonous routine.

Rest assured, this was one of the best experiences of 2014 which has etched it’s way into my soul. Being around such high spirited people drowned me into a sense of happiness I can’t express and I hope to return to this school whenever I get a chance.

P.S: We might call THEM handicapped, but in reality, the handicapped ones are actually us.