The best and the most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart – Hellen Keller
It was about 5 years back that I came to Hyderabad. I was working as a Marketing manager with Nagarjuna Constructions back then. That day I didn’t take my car out for I found it’s tyres punctured. So, I took the crowded bus, on the way to office when I saw her in the seat right in front of me. The perfume she carried tore through my senses and there she was, laughing her heart out. The way she was talking and giggling with her colleague gave me an impression that she was someone who loved herself and was an eternal optimist. The conversation was completely one sided as her friend was dead silent most of the time, preferring to just 'Hmmm' her way out. It was her radiating smile that finally swept me off my feet. She bid her friend bye leaving the seat next to her vacant. So I promptly sat beside her.
‘Hi, I am Sri’, I introduced myself.
She didn’t look at me. I thought she couldn't hear me amidst all that Hyderabadi clutter and so I again greeted her. Busy typing an SMS on her cell phone, I thought it was very rude of her to ignore me like that. Did I just make a fool of myself? A few minutes of silence later, she woke up ready to alight the bus as her destination had come. I was angry and upset at having been ignored in such an ignominious way. But still I couldn’t help but notice that she was entering an institute and wondered was she old enough to be a teacher there? The bus conductor then announced loudly ‘Hellen Keller’.
I ignored the commotion that followed in the bus and started pondering. Why didn’t she even acknowledge my presence when I greeted her? It was about ten minutes later that I recalled the conductor having announced the name of the bus stage as ‘Hellen Keller’. And then everything began to fall in place. There was indeed a ‘Hellen Keller Institute for Deaf and Deaf Blind’ and I was now sure she entered the same. Questions began to crop up and I answered them myself.
Is she deaf? No
Is she dumb? No. I clearly heard her talking with her friend.
Is she a teacher? But isn’t she also young enough to be a student? Let’s find out.
Unfortunately, I had to make a presentation the same day to the board. So I decided to check her out the next day. But, it wasn’t until 4 days later that on a fine Saturday morning, I finally managed the time to visit the institute. The watchman at the gate stopped me. I showed him my ID and started walking on the beautiful pathway surrounded by lush green lawns, admiring the Gothic architecture and the serene ambience of the institute. Suddenly a boy emerged, huffing and puffing his lungs out after running all the way to me from nowhere. He was curiously checking me out and obviously wanted to find out who I was. Looking at him, I guessed he was old enough to be in the fifth or sixth standard. Using the sign language, he asked me what I was looking for and then I realised he was like many others in the institute, both deaf and dumb.
So, I took out a piece of paper and wrote down ‘Lady Teacher – Long hairs!!’ I took my chance for I was yet unclear as to who she was - a student or a teacher. To my surprise, he led me directly to a class where she was teaching Mathematics to the second standard students.
It was a pretty weird way of teaching mathematics. Abacus was extensively used and everyone in the class used the sign language for communication. A typical maths class is characterised by decent amount of decibel levels, whereas this class was totally silent. I decided to wait outside till she was done with the class; utilising this free time to prepare myself and conjure up ideas to start off a conversation with her. Is she also deaf? Something deep inside me was refusing to believe so. I was absolutely sure she was not deaf. Fair complexioned and round faced with sharp eyes and a jawline that reminded me of Scarlett Johansson, she was dressed in a chiffon pink saree, tall and slim enough to look absolutely stunning and smelt the same way she did that day in the bus. It was mesmerising to say the least.
‘Hello. Aren’t you the one who sat beside me that day in the bus?’ she started off straightaway with a question that was interrogative in its tone.
‘Yes. I had also greeted you then. But I guess you were busy messaging someone’ I wasn’t looking at her when I said that.
‘Did you say something now? Sorry I am deaf’ How could she be so nonchalant while declaring that? I was shell shocked. Then she locked her eyes with mine, looking directly at me.
‘Ok. I am deaf. But I know lip reading. So whatever it is, talk while looking at me and make sure I look at you as well’ she instructed with a hearty laugh at the end.
I was clearly shaken enough to be not in the right state of mind with her anymore. But I had no other option but be myself, lest I offend her. It was pretty clear to me that she was a supremely confident assertive woman and didn’t like people showing any signs of sympathy towards her. I couldn't gather the guts to tell that I came all the way to meet her. The alibi I conjured up earlier came in handy. We were now in her room and she promptly asked me to take a seat.
‘So how can I help you?’ she asked.
‘Are you fine? Shall I get you a glass of water?’ she enquired clearly amused at how I was beginning to stutter.
Love knows no boundaries Part 2
Love knows no boundaries Part 2