Long back,in my high-school,(std.9th) I got a chance to play the role of an amanuensis (not a ubiquitous term though…commonly known as writer) for a blind candidate from pune.In fact,we were a set of around ten classmates who had agreed to do the job for few blind students .The only criterion for eligibility was good handwriting and the will to help.I have cared to write a whole post on this experience…..for it was one of the things which made me learn a lot about life.
It was their tenth..SSC exam.We had no choice to select the student we will be writing for…. it was just decided by the order in which we walked into the examination hall on day one…..where all those students were already seated.And that was when I met this guy for the first time…in fact the first ever blind person I met in my life.”Hi…I am Vinod.”….he said in a jovial tone trying to search me around with his hands waving in the air…..I grabbed his hand..oh god….how it felt…..first time ever I realised the power of touch!…..our handshake was a Hi from my side.
“I am Rohit.I will be writing your papers”, I tried in an attempt to break the ice.
“Fine…..take this”…he started to fumble over the writing material he had brought for me in his bag.
“No.no…its Ok…I have got my own pencil box with me..No need to give me”
“But I have brought a ‘Hero’ make,made in china!”
“Yes…..even I have the same one….I will use mine”
Suddenly a mendacious thought struck me….he had no option but to agree…he could have never been able to collate whether I really had the same pen(what an atrocious thought!). I cursed myself and tried not to think that way.There was still about half an hour left for the exam to commence.I tried to make him feel comfortable by asking few trivial questions like where he lived…what were his plans after tenth.It was then when he told me about his hobbies and ambitions….”I love music..I love playing guitar.I want to join the Hyderabad school of music to pursue my career in music…..umm…but it needs 60 percent score for me to get in,even with the relaxed criterion for blind…I have to score well..I have to!”
I could imagine…..it was de facto…quite difficult for a blind candidate to score that,because…they are offered the same syllabus and papers as that of normal students except for maths and science…where the level tantamounts to std 7th.
First day.. was the maths paper.He carefully placed his “Mathematical slate” on table trying not to disturb the things already placed on the desk.
“What is this?”..I asked with an awe.
“This is our slate.Sort of a calculator.”
“How do you use it?”
“With these pins…..you place pins in the holes on the slate…and there are powers of 10 associated with every row of holes.That way one can multiply and add.”
I was amused to see this device…but at the same time…..was worried…how was he going to manage all the calculations in the measly 2.5 hours!
And then came the BIG ISSUE :: Shall I help him???…..we were warned not to help our candidates.On moral grounds, we were not supposed to add a single word apart from what they spoke.
I gave it a thought.Suddenly the urge to help him surged in my mind…..overpowering my conscience.Especially the words he had used few minutes back echoed in my mind…..”I have to score well to get in…..I have to”.Leafing through the question paper booklet,I realised,it was absolute cakewalk for me with my std 9th CBSE background.It had questions framed on profit and loss,ratio and proportion.I could have orally solved most of the problems.But I tried not to do so.
I allowed him to take his time……firstly it took 5 mins for both of us to convey the text of the problem itself.(Remember..he had to fit in all given data and question in memory as he could not see the question)….and that was quite taxing.Then he started working on his slate for calculations.He took a few minutes to calculate.Meanwhile….i was just observing his countenance,completely drowned in his calculations….oblivious of the world around.I could feel,he had really worked hard…to whatever extent he could.He told me he studied till 3 at “night” for the maths paper.”Till 3 at night??”..I repeated with a surprise.”Yeah..for us…day or night…does n’t make a dfference”…he answered innocently.I was speechless!
Minutes passed….problems flew….and the bell rang.He had done well by and large….I had practically written answers the way I was told…even when I knew…..some of them were wrong.
The other day was a science paper.As usual we greeted each other…now much more amicably.
“How do you prepare for science”….I asked with the evergreen curiosity I had in his company.
“Listening to cassettes..and the brail books…but the cassettes most probably”
Listening to cassettes…my god.I tried to imagine……me preparing for my 10th board exam….listening to cassettes throughout the year and not reading a single word…..quite difficult! The paper started….things went on similar lines with the previous paper.The only difference being….I helped little bit…uh….actually I helped…alot!. But I always told him what I was writing on behalf of him.As I found it simply hopeless to expect him to calculate mgh+1/2mv~2 and change it into proper SI units n all.The thing which I could do in few seconds took minutes for his calculation.I dont deny the validity of morals and principles……but sometimes…you just have to listen to your heart rather than brain.(I got a good firing from Mandar(my classmate) for this later…he never helped his candidate…..in fact he was doubtful whether his candidate will pass ….I had respect for his attitude but never thought of following my brain.The philosophical fights with Mandar continued…till the end..and both of us were pretty adamant to change.Days passed and the exam finished.In the meantime we also enjoyed bunking our school lectures for this noble cause 😉 …..and often had blasts at the canteens we used to eat at.
Days passed…..my own 10th vacation batch in school had started.I Had quite forgotten the whole affair,was totally immersed in my studies……and one fine day……my phone rang.It was “HIS”…..he recognised me from the single hello I said on line….of course for him….my voice was my only identity!…he informed me…”Rohit….I scored s-e-v-e-n-t-y t-w-o!”..not believing himself.I was equally happy.”God!, you scored 72??good…actually……awesome!”……”I topped among the handicapped students from my school….I am going to be felicitated tomorrow in my school!”
“Yeah….and now I will also get into…”
“The Hyderabad school of music!”…I completed.
“Yes.Thanks alot….how are your board studies coming along?.its your tenth now I guess”
“Wish you also top in your class….good luck!..n thanks Rohit.I will never forget you!”
The call ended….and along with it…ended a great experience….which even I wont forget.Dont know what pedagogical features were ingrained in this anecdote…but certainly…..the feeling of being able to help someone with his life gives me great satisfaction.
Ps: This is a real life story by the way!