There is no explanation of my feelings right now. I cannot believe that I have actually started writing. It took me some time and lot of courage but I pulled it up.
I am deaf. I sometimes wish people would stop calling me that. It makes me feel as if I do not belong here. But the truth is that I have been deaf since birth. In fact I am the only one deaf in my family. Everyone else is perfectly normal. When people speak to me, they naturally assume that I am hearing and go on talking and after a while they either start enunciating the words exaggeratedly or begin yelling. I used to feel as if I am a lone observer of the world and that everyone is acting around me.
But of late, I feel differently. People hear what they choose to hear. Hearing people also act as if they cannot hear to what they do not want to listen. I choose to listen to the sound of the bell which the pundit rings every evening after the prayers in the mandir next to our house. I choose to listen to the symphony of raindrops which trickle down my cheeks on a slow, monsoon evening. When my parents took me (to) Puri I had chosen to sit and listen to the song of the waves as they formed in the deep ocean, rolled on and broke so softly on the shore. I have read the works of Rabindranath Tagore and tried to smell in his music, look at it with my eyes and feel it in my flesh and bones. It balms my soul and calms down my spirit. What I also listen to is the echoes of ancient, wise voices who whisper in my ears everyday. You will be surprised to know that the language they speak has no words and can be understood by all.
I think that while creating this world God gave only silence to some of our ears to make others realize the joys of sound. And since I am deaf, I don’t have to listen to the endless news of men killing men, the bullets shot and the blood spilled. My father has tried to explain to me several times why wars take place but I just won’t understand. I have seen the look which falls on my father’s face when he talks about wars and I do not want to understand it ever.
Since we cannot hear we have mastered the art of reading expressions. We can easily tell all that is going through someone when they are silent by simply looking at their eyes. Our world is filled with colours and lights and sounds of the other kind. Oh! If only you could be deaf for a day!
My mother once told me that kindness is a language even deaf people can understand. I did not get what she meant. One day, I had gone for a walk with my best friend – my pet dog Cherry, when he got lost. I shouted his name but it was no use since I could not hear him even if he barked in return. An old lady found him and returned him back to me in her lap. It was then that I realized what my mother had meant that day.
I did not like my previous tutor. He made me feel like I have this disability. My father fired him last month. Now I go to a new sign language class. I absolutely adore the teacher of our class. He says that we do not have to pass any citizenship test to be a citizen of this earth. We belong to this earth as much as anyone else does. And the best thing is that he is deaf too. So we can sit and talk for hours and hours about poetry and literature in our own language.
I was glad to learn from him that deaf people all over the world are now participating with hearing people in every sphere of life. I also have a dream. I want to write a book someday and it is obviously not going to be about the miseries of being deaf. Deaf actress Marlee Matlin said that she believes she can do everything, except for maybe sing. I believe I can do too. I am very happy. I have plenty of friends and a loving family and I really cannot ask for anything else.
So there it is – above, in an essay, all that I wanted to say. There is just one more thing left to write before I close the lid of my pen. I think I’m falling in love with deafness.
N.B. – Sritoma is not deaf. This is an imaginative essay.