Visit to the Home for the Destitute Blind, in Kizhuparamba village of Kerala, March 08 2017
Learning takes many forms and shapes. So do Teachers and Books. Knowledge, being an intangible thing, therefore, can be absorbed from anyone, irrespective of their physical state.
It was after attending a college’s Women’s Day talk, the organizers invited me to visit a shelter home close to the institution. We reached the destination after a smooth ride via the countryside roads and crossing a little bridge over the Chaliyar river. ‘Rain has changed its course in the recent times. If at all any drops fall, it is out of Lord’s mercy on the animals and plants’,said one of the youth organizers who accompanied me.
I was really taken aback by the philanthropic activism of these youths. While the moral pundits spare no opportunity to blame our youths for all ills of the society, these college youths are wholeheartedly committed in their exemplary charitable initiatives.
A Dazzling Lesson
Unlike the customary Womens day event, this visit was devoid of pomp and glory. This was reality showing its teeth in full might. Could Life be so cruelly real, I was going to learn. A lesson so dazzling, my eyes and heart could not stand it for long.
Collecting the Unwanted
We were first received by the caretaker and manager of the shelter home. ‘The land for this shelter was donated by a noble soul in the neighborhood’, said Hameed, a retired man who has dedicated his life for these deserted beings.
‘The inmates are ‘collected’ from different parts of the State, including bus stands and families who wish to get rid of these ‘wasted’ lives. They are given some training in handicrafts and other skills’, continued the caretaker.
Blessings in Kind
‘And what do you live on’, I inquired. ‘When Allah wish to increase your providence, it is not necessary blessings descend in the form of cash alone’, said Hameed philosophically.
Each furniture item in this rehabilitation center was generously donated by nonprofit organizations.
The Plague of Food Wastage
Food is also being brought here by individuals and institutions. Modern Kerala is plagued by food wastage at weddings and parties. As an act of repentance, those in touch with this center have pledged their extra food for the residents. Mosques and temples are also sending their excess rice. ‘The government is yet to recognize this place’, lamented Hameed. But society have been responsive, he reassured.
Sight of the Sightless Lot
He then led us to the residents who were seated on benches. They introduced themselves, one by one. They smiled in joy, although I was invisible to their unfortunate eyes. Rejected, dejected, abandoned, forsaken… they had endless list of titles to be ‘honored’ with. One of the youths who accompanied us ran out of the room unable to bear the sight of this sightless lot.
It is true these souls need financial assistance in their struggle for living. But what they really yearned was for love, the king of all happiness.
A Dethroned Breadwinner
One man was sitting inches close to the TV while holding the reading glasses, as if he was reading a book. ‘He used to work in the Gulf. When he lost eyesight due to blood pressure, he was fired from job. His wife and kids in Kerala too abandoned him when he was dethroned from the breadwinner post. He found his home here’.
Truth: not always Flower-Wrapped
I, along with the youths, sighed in disbelief. But then it was nothing short of truth. And Truth does not always come wrapped in smilies and flowers.
We stepped out to leave. There stood a cashew fruit tree with its fruits fallen on the ground. To become unloved and unwanted is perhaps the greatest pain of this earthly life. A favorite eat since my childhood days, I picked a handful of them with the permission of the manager. He shook the branches and there fell even more of the juicy fruit.
The Book of Blind
I felt surrounded by the Lord’s angels who were pouring love and blessings upon these Love-starved souls. And I was glad to be in that company for a while.
Boys and girls from other colleges continued to flock here to learn new lessons. I had learned mine. Bright Lessons. From the Book of Blind that is.
Photos by Shafeeq Pallikkal