Looking through a blind man’s eyes

26 May

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting a visually impaired artist who welcomed a group of strangers to take a glimpse of the world through his eyes.

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This was Parallel Cities, part of the ongoing Singapore Arts Festival 2012. And my annual pilgrimage to the Arts. Watching performances never fail to give me a sense of homecoming. Especially when and if I see familiar faces and names.

I do miss working in the Arts, though being overworked and underpaid was simply no longer a sustainable way of life for me. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Anyway…

I struggle to find a way to describe the show to my friends, because I can’t bring myself to say it was a show. The closest I get, is that it was a “sharing”… An intimate encounter that I otherwise would never have had the chance to partake in.

My encounter brought me to a barely lit alleyway behind a row of Arab Street shophouses.

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The sweet cloying scent from the shisha pipes linger and friendly chatter from the various corner bars rang discordant through the night.

We knocked at the alumninium back door and soon came face to face with our host – Daniel. He seemed a jolly sociable sorta man. Like the friendly uncle next door who always bought Xmas gifts for all the neighbour’s kids.

We shook hands and introduced ourselves, before being led up to a private sitting area where Uncle Daniel told us stories of his life.

It was the first time I have ever heard first hand from a visually impaired person and I treasure that experience. It made me think about privileges i never knew i had and never given second thoughts to. It was humbling.

The hour passed us by as conversation flowed easily between Daniel and the handful of us gatecrashers. Over a glass of carrot juice, we chatted about assistance devices, braille, working as a telephone operator at the Ministry of National Development, his achievements in sports like competitive bowling, tandem biking, swimming. Wow. He even climbed Mt Kinabalu! How many able bodied individual can lay claim to that?! Not me!

I was very humbled by the experience.

At the closing, Daniel brought us to the roof of the carpet shop – the namesake of the sharing was Roof. In his rock ballad voice, he sang us a couple of his original compositions. Yes, he writes songs too!!! Impressed much?

The melodies were catchy and the lyrics reflected his inner world and insightful takes on the surroundings. I challenged my own naive ignorance about my perception of the visually impaired. They might struggle with daily tasks we take for granted, but it doesn’t make them less able. Methinks perhaps it is society that is disabling. A world where things are purpose built for the majority; thus some inevitably get left out. Disability of not. It’s just a label anyway. It is the spirit of triumph despite the world being built for those unlike you, that’s truly inspiring.

The human spirit is remarkable.

I might never be able to see Uncle Daniel’s world the way he does. But for that nearly one hour I spent, I certainly felt touched by it.

Kudoes Singapore Arts Festival! Singapore needs more of these.

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4 Responses to “Looking through a blind man’s eyes”

  1. sze hong May 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    heartwarming. soul searching. nice piece. thank you.

    • yuehann May 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

      Thanks szehong! It was really an eye opening experience for me.

  2. Jia May 31, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    Hann, Nice post. I never mention to u I have a visually impaired colleague in my office. A strong believer in Christ and She is also an inspiration to me in many ways. they really make us count our blessings dun u agree? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • yuehann May 31, 2012 at 7:10 am #

      Thanks jia, I am blessed to be able to share this. ๐Ÿ™‚

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