The Blind Side
It was quarter to 8 in the evening, when I reached Hauz-Khas metro station. As it was early December, winter had already kicked in. Running 15 minutes late, I guess, I struggled my way out of the station. Saturday nights always overfills this part of Delhi by people from adjacent cities and using the service of metro become cumbersome. I needed to make my way to the place located at 5 minutes’ drive. So, I booked a cab to reach there in time, somewhere in between 8 pm to 8:10 pm. Being a popular place the cab arrived in just 2 minutes. I’ve always been thankful to the technology, which has made possibilities possible. I mean just a decade earlier no one would’ve had thought of these, on the go cab services. Forget cabs, smartphones would’ve been a far-fetched idea. But as human evolved, so did our technology. Anyways, I reached the place just in time, the process for the entrants was still going on. I rushed to the main entrance and took out the solo pass for the entry from my left pocket of the blazer. The access was granted.
Entering the premises, I noticed this huge banner containing the photos of the artists going to perform in their performances order. It was some duet and solo Kathak performances. Yes…Yes…You may call me old school but I’m proud to be a retro lover. The event was taking place in the Aryabhata-Theater, which was as open (without roof) theatre. I saw a signboard which read ‘way to the theatre’. Following the direction of the signboard, I reached the theatre entrance. Unlike any ordinary movie theatre, it was a big structure carved into the ground, inspired by the shape of the quadrant of a big circle but 3-dimensional. Pillars at the arc of the theatre holding the spotlights, speakers & stuff like that. And stage at the centre of the cone. Instead of those mechanical seats found in any ordinary theatre, there were big inclined stairs going all the way down to the main stage. Both the seats and seat numbers were carved on them in traditional style with pillows and silk carpets. Just stepping into the theatre, I was asked to put off my shoes, some sort of rule the theatre follows.
I looked up at the sky, it was dark… As an ocean seems at night. With minty winds to add the right amount of cold. As I stepped down onto the first stair, a valet approached me by asking, “Sir, your pass please?”. I showed the young man my pass. After a pause of one second, he said to me while pointing towards the main stage, “C-11, that’s the 11th seat in the third row of the centre column from the front”. Taking my pass, I walked down towards the third row of the centre column. In few head rotations, I located the seat labelled as C-11. And as I was about to grab my seat, a tap on my left shoulder made me turn around.
“Is this C-10?”. A lady in her mid-twenties, wearing a salwar-kameez with an old fashion black leather jacket, now standing in front of me, asked me. It was a little different, she looked distinct from others at the time. It’s grotesque of us, how quickly we judge people by what they wear. “Sir?”, the girl continued looking not particularly at me but just through me as I was still lost in my trans of being judgmental. It was then when she waved her hands and accidentally tapped my chest, I replied, “This is C-11, mine, that’s C-10, beside mine”. “If I may ask, which side, to your left or right?”, that was an odd question at that time as I’d just pointed towards the seat but… “To my left, the corner seat”, I replied to her query.
There was something different about this girl, I sensed it as she was talking to me but not reaching to my eyes, not even in the direction where I was standing. Her struggle to put herself in the seat and that too without looking at it. It’s in the nature of humans to find the odds in evens, I was no different back then. As she was sitting on my left seat, acting impatient and weird, I couldn’t help myself but to watch her till the lights went off.
“Am I at the right place sir?”, she asked. “You are…”, I replied. She was rolling her eyes all over the theatre like she was searching for someone but not looking at anything in particular. I couldn’t fathom… So, I asked the lady if she was trying to spot someone.
“I am not trying to find someone, I am trying to focus on the voice of the anchor. There is this performance of my best friend tonight and I don’t want to miss any of it… Not even the announcement”, she told me. “I’m sure the announcement will be in play soon enough”, I said and looked away from her. Listening to this reply of hers’, at first, I thought it’s was just the excitement but there was more to it.
The cell phone which she was holding in her left had started ringing and she hastily rolled her hands and picked up the call. It was something strange, she had a unibody cell phone. I mean who uses buttons in the era of smartphones. “Yes, I’m in my seat… No, no fuss, a gentleman helped me out”, this was what I heard while I was peeking. The lights started diming as a lady in a beautiful saree approached the main stage and the announcement to settle-down was made. “Finally,”, I exclaimed. “What? Is it starting?”, she being inquisitive. “Yeah…Finally…”, I said.
There was this special performance of a girl which they plotted as the first. The name of the performer was announced. It was then, when the lights went off the lady on my left said, “it’s her…It’s my friend.” And you won’t believe this, there was an utter silence in the theatre but only this lady screamed her friend’s name and erupted whistles. I didn’t knew her but I was embarrassed just by watching her do that. “Can you tell me how she is looking?”, she asked me about her friend. “What?”, I asked is a shock. “My friend, how is she looking?”, she asked again. “Can’t you see, she is not on stage yet.” “Huh… I screamed out that loud for nothing.” Why the hell you even did that…I exclaimed. Her next words made me froze.
“The thing is can’t see, I don’t possess the power of vision.” For few seconds…I was still…just still. It took me a moment to understand what she just said. I swallow my saliva and I put all the energy of my body in my voice to say, “I am sorry miss, I didn’t knew.” Don’t be sorry, how could you have known, we met what…five minutes back, she said in the benevolent manner I ever encountered in my entire life. It was then when the applause begins, I took my sight from her to the main stage and after a pause, I said, “Beautiful…she looks beautiful.” I know, she expressed with a smile.
“I hope she’ll continuously watch the screen and doesn’t miss the beats”, she said. “What do you mean? What screen?”, I asked. “Here is the thing, my friend there…neither can she hear nor can she speak. So, her guru takes help of the numbers and a display. when a number is displayed on the screen, she does the prepared step for that particular number or we can say the beat”, she said. Hearing that…it felt like someone had taken away the ground under my feet. I was baffled. During the entire course of my life, I’ve never seen something like that. It was something extraordinary. “Wow…I don’t know what to say…I am speechless.”, I express. Ah! Don’t be. We are not weak. I’ll tell you something, I am sitting here because of her. See, I’m her voice and ears & at the same time she gives me vision. She wanted me to hear the applause on her behalf. “Hey, you there…”, she asked. “The performance is going to start…Shall we?”, I said.
The enthral performances passed by one after another and a resplendent evening came to an end. During the whole event, I was both stunned and lost in my trans. I watched the performances with the least of my concentration. Afterwards, I met the friend of hers’ and we took some selfies. And I took my leave.
Watching them standing there …in support of each other… I was wondering how true and unparallel their bond was…Incorruptible. Friendship like this is rare. They are an epitome of what humans can be.
The Blind Side