Thursday, 20 June 2013

Contentment-An eternal bliss

This is an incident that happened 20 years ago and I was blessed to be a witness to this incident.
This was the time when I was working for an eye hospital in the capacity of an Assistant Administrative Officer.

The hospital not only gave vision to many visually handicapped people, it also opened my eyes to the positive people around me.

As one of the hospital routines we used to go to villages nearby and conduct eye camps, identifying people with correctable vision problems. Every weekend we would travel to villages in the southern states of India and to be very honest, I always looked forward to these trips as we got to eat outside of the hostel canteen!

Once, we undertook a trip to a village in Karnataka. One child, about 7 years of age, was admitted into the camp for treatment of corneal opacity. The treatment procedure for this kid was corneal replacement. We  explained to the parents that the cornea that is replaced can get rejected by the child's body and there was only a slim chance of the child getting her vision. Nevertheless, if the child is able to see for sometime, then the procedure can be repeated a couple of times and the chances that the eye will accept the new vision were high. After explaining all the possibilities to the parents, we asked them to take a measured call.

The parents and the child alike were insistent and the corneal transplant was performed.

After a few days the child's blindfold was removed and she gradually adjusted to the light around. The following few hours in the hospital was one of unexplainable happiness, as the child ran around uttering the words, "nanu nodabahudu" meaning, "I can see".

Tears rolled down the cheeks of the onlookers, and I left the place as the possibility that this happiness of the child could be short-lived, kept coming back to me.

A couple of weeks later, the child was back with the same complaint. The vision was blurring. I could barely hold myself and thought that the family, and particularly the child, were going to be distraught. It is one thing to understand certain things verbally and so completely different to go through them and come out emotionally unscathed, however strong you may be.
I was bracing myself up to a show-down which usually happens when things do not go as per plan. But what greeted me was a composed father and an even more stoic mother. They consoled each other and decided to wait for couple of more years. They were not the ones to give up. They were ready to get the same operation done once more when the child's physical growth stopped, maybe around the age of 12 -13 years.

As I felt better and ready to move ahead to my next job, I saw one of the staff talking to the child. They explained to her that all was not lost and that she should be hopeful. In an innocent tone, the child replied that she always was hopeful and that her parents had told her to be positive. "So", asked the staff, "you are not disappointed that you cannot see?"

The child's reply is still etched in my memory. "Why should I feel disappointed? I am happy that now I know what people mean when they say, "the mango is yellow in colour". I am contented that I could see the world and everything I liked. I can visualize things when people talk to me about them."

With just one reply, the child consoled all of us and made us all better human beings!