By Nivedita N
“In a line, please,” the guide announced.
Like ants, six of us stood in the line.
“Put your hand on my shoulder,” said the guide, taking us into the darkness.
“Are you there?” asked Mummy.
“Yes. Yes. I am here,” I replied, holding her soft hand.
The others in the team introduced themselves, standing where we were. We were too scared of tripping and falling. I held Mummy’s hand tight.
After a round of introductions, we walked together, holding our companions. It felt so different holding Mummy’s hand in the dark. Comforting and soothing.
Was it the magic of the dark or was it my ignorance that I never felt the way I did, in the last twenty years. In the sighted world, where do we really hold hands?
At least, I do not ! I was enjoying the beautiful feeling of tenderness, when the guide asked us to smell vegetables. We passed on a vegetable to each other. Slowly, sniffing. Some of us guessed it right and some did not. The trainer applauded and asked each of us to do so.
We clapped for the `unknown’ friends, whose faces I had forgotten in the dark. They were just voices now. Hoarse, soothing, pleasant or worried. We walked further inch by inch, taking care of each other and ensuring we remained `grounded’.
The guide gave us a plethora of tasks and we, dutifully completed them to earn his compliments. He had a pleasant voice and spoke with, what we were sure, was a smile. It could be felt.
As our team (rather a bunch of friends now) moved to the cafeteria, we were worried, how would we eat or drink. “What If I have chillies?” I thought.
The guide asked us to place our order and sit at a table nearby. He had to guide us there as well. We finally sat and since the order was delayed and having nothing better to do, we shared our experiences, fears – all in the dark – where people were just voices.
The guide soon came with what we ordered. It was an eerie feeling to eat in the dark. What If some insect fell inside. I had ordered coffee and since the taste was like my usual cup of coffee, I concluded nothing fell into it.
Finally, it was time to leave the dark room.
In the darkness, we left our fears, worries and adopted the light called trust, faith and love towards each other. When we walked into the light, I could hear my mates say “why did we come out?”
Blinking our eyes to adjust to the light, we stood together for a couple of minutes in silence, smiling at each other. I could not match the voices to the people in front of me, as in the dark, it all seemed the same – Dark and Beautiful !
About Dialogue in the Dark: It is a permanent exhibition brought to India by social entrepreneurs, the Krishnans in Hyderabad to create opportunities for the visually challenged and also make us realize the importance of four senses apart from vision i.e., touch, smell, hear, and taste.
Web site: http://nnivedita.com