‘It’s still dark outside so I will sleep-in a little longer’, I told myself. But, why is the alarm ringing? I remember setting it up to wake me at 8 am in the morning and it’s ringing now! Where is my phone? I think there is a problem with my phone. ‘Ouch! My knee! Who kept that stupid table here? Oh.. I moved it here yesterday.’ It’s still dark. Did the power go off? I hate these power outages. I looked up and to the side and somehow managed to turn on the bed light switch, once, twice and again but it doesn’t want to turn on. What’s happening? Am I dead? Shut up! I’m just being paranoid’.


I could hear all the sounds clearly. Yeah, that annoying engine noise...my neighbors must be going somewhere, but, wait a minute! why is it still dark? I could feel the sweat drip at the back of my head and a streak of shiver ran through my spine.


Am I still asleep and this is just a dream? But it’s so real. There was something seriously wrong! I shut my eyes for a minute and hoped this will all go away. Oh God! I don’t like this at all…it must be a nightmare. Common…go to sleep, I took a deep breath. With all the noises around and in my head, I couldn’t sleep. ‘Okay…. let me open my eyes slowly’. I still couldn’t see a thing. Why can’t I see anything? I remembered that Ravi must be sleeping in the living room, we hung out yesterday and he should be here. Anybody there? Can anyone hear me? Ravi! I shouted as loudly as I can.


With tears flowing down my eyes, I stood there in shock and my body was trembling in fear. Ravi barged into my room, What is wrong with you? He yelled. And why in the world are you...crying? Ravi was clearly concerned. I couldn’t see him, but I guess he was right in front of me.


With trembling voice I said, ‘Ravi, I think I’ve gone suddenly blind’. ‘What? This is not funny at all’. Ravi shouted and I could sense that he was irritated.


‘No, Ravi! Do I look like I’m kidding? Just take me to a doctor now!’ I screamed. He helped me walk out of the house. I felt the warm rays of sun while I waited clueless and still in utter shock of my life. Ravi got his motorbike and with great difficulty I got onto it. ‘Will I fall off the bike? I think, I will’. I held Ravi so tight that he twitched and moaned in pain.


After all the tests were done, I lay down on the hospital bed for a couple of hours but it felt like an eternity. Ravi came back from meeting the doctor and gently touched my shoulder.


‘What did the doctor say?’ I asked him with a faint ray of hope, expecting some good news but my instincts were whining that it’s going to be bad. Ravi slowly repeated what the doctor had told him...‘Ravi, your friend had a sudden loss of sight and all the symptoms suggest that it is Optic Neuritis. The exact cause of this disease is unknown and I’m afraid your friend might never regain his sight. I’m really sorry!’.


And all my fears came true that moment. I loathed my instinct for getting it right this time. I felt like someone squeezed the soul out of my very body.


My knees trembled and I just sat down wondering what would happen to my future and all the big dreams and goals I had. I was supposed to meet Kavya’s parents tomorrow. ‘Will they accept our marriage? Oh! Will Kavya ever...?’ We made so many plans and wanted to go see all those beautiful places. My camera! Oh my camera…what do I do? I won’t be able to see or photograph anything now. I can’t be a burden to anybody. How am I going to live like this?’ I felt a little dizzy and fainted. The last thing I remember saying was... ‘call Kavya!’.


Days passed into weeks and into months. No matter how much ever my parents and friends tried to cheer me up, I couldn’t think of a reason to continue to live. My existence was useless, and I had become an unnecessary burden on my family. Every time Kavya visited me, I felt like running away. But, I didn’t want to lose her but I was afraid that day isn’t too far. Was I being selfish? I know, she deserves better. God! I miss looking at her twinkling eyes. Thoughts of a helpless and a hopeless future took me further down into a deep well of depression.


I sat in a corner, thinking of ways to break-up with Kavya. How can I break-up with her, without hurting her? Why is she so adamant to stick with me and why can’t she just leave me? My life is a waste already…and why does she want to ruin hers too?


I didn’t step out of the house after that dreadful day and remained in my room all the time. I had no concept of time, day or night. I had no emotion or could feel anything what so ever. I knew I was killing myself slowly. Disturbing my emptiness, I heard footsteps and it must be Kavya. She came running into my room and held my hand and said, ‘come! let’s go out…I want to take you to a nice place’. I resisted for a while and even yelled at her but finally gave-up to her stubbornness. Maybe I secretly wanted to get out of the house and Kavya somehow read my mind.


Whoever finds the keys first, was allowed to drive the car and I used to win all the time. This time, I just followed her and as she struggled to help me, I managed to sit silently beside her. Not a word came out of my mouth…and I could feel that Kavya’s eyes were moist. She switched on the car stereo and M.S Subbalakshmi in her divine voice started to sing ‘Bhajagovindam’. She drove for an hour and Kavya started singing along and I thought she now sounds more beautiful than ever before. After a couple of hours, Kavya slowly stopped the car somewhere and rolled down the windows. I felt the cool evening breeze on my face and it was so peaceful, for the first time in a long time. Kavya kept singing my favorite songs one after the other and I wondered if she was getting tired. I sensed a slight change in her voice so requested her to stop singing.


She said ‘no’, as usual, and got ready to sing one more. I threatened to get out of the car if she continues to sing and suddenly, she burst into tears. She was crying uncontrollably and I never saw her cry before so didn’t know how to react. So, is this the day? ‘Was she breaking-up with me?’ My heart skipped a beat with the thought of it. But I was also preparing myself for a sense of relief that she will move on with life and find happiness.


She gathered herself in a while and got ready to sing again as she cleared her throat. ‘What?’ I thought she was insane. And, what was all that crying for? Just because I asked her to stop singing? 'Stop acting crazy, Kavya'-I yelled at her. She pleaded me to let her sing. I just could not understand why was she hell bent on singing, for me? ‘Why?’ I shouted. Kavya said, ‘all the while I sang, you I had a smile on your face, which I didn’t see in a while’.


I stood still. ‘Yes, I was indeed happy when I heard her sing. I felt life flowing in my veins once again and my soul was elated, for the first time in months. But I didn’t realize that it all showed up as a smile on my face. Kavya was happy that her singing made me happy so she sang and sang her heart out although it was hurting her immensely. All that was to make me smile. I was speechless. What did I do to deserve her? I was on top of the world. I was deeply in love. What would I do without her? What would I be without her?


‘Kavya…wish I could see you now’.


‘Don’t worry because, I can see you. And remember that you only lost your sight and not your vision. Here… hold your camera, feel your heart, look through my eyes and shoot’.

DARK LIGHTS


I wondered how foolishly we take things for granted. How our kids take things for granted.


With every part of my body functioning properly and with so much love in my life what is it that I complain about?


I cannot fathom what a visually challenged person goes through in real life. After I met some of the teachers of Netra Vidyalaya - a school for the visually challenged and saw the humility in their eyes and the tremendous pride for their incredible students, I promised myself that one day I too will become a teacher.


When I met the kids of Netra Vidhyalaya, everything changed. I wondered, if the kids went to the school to learn or to teach. They taught me a lot of valuable lessons. They gave me; a new strength to keep dreaming, a new hope that those dreams may one day become reality, a new determination that even if I fail on the way, I should keep going forward. I can never forget those sweet words and their tiny little hands holding me. Their beautiful singing voices and extraordinarily bright faces would always fill my heart with warmth and with love. These dark lights shine the brightest.

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