A Journalist Shares the Story of a Visually Impaired Woman He Encounters…Very Inspirational!

A Journalist Shares the Story of a Visually Impaired Woman He Encounters…Very Inspirational!

Posted on Aug.28, 2009, by , under Educational, Inspirational Stories


“Dai, I want to visit your office,” she said over the phone. “Could you please meet me at Kathmandu Mall?”

Leaving my office at Sundhara, I found her on the steps to the mall. “Let’s go,” I said. She recognized my voice and greeted me humbly, “Oh, you’ve arrived!”

She picked up her stick and slung her white handbag over her shoulder. Holding her left arm, I brought her to my office.

I met Chandra Rekha Shrestha, a visually impaired girl, en route to Shanti Nagar several months ago. She was walking down the road with her white stick, and I saw she was about to walk into a muddy pothole. Had she continued, she might have tripped and fallen, or at least muddied her dress.

Not wishing this to be her fate, I stopped my motorbike and called out, “There´s a pothole in front of you, Bahini. If it’s all right with you, I’ll take you to your place.”

She happily accepted. I took her plastic bag so she could climb on my motorbike, and we drove to her destination. Having just met, we spoke briefly about her profession and studies, and I discovered she was on her way to Tinkune for a teacher´s training program.
Chandra had called me a couple of times since our chance encounter. However, I had been unable to meet her due to my busy schedules.

Finally, reuniting at the Kathmandu Mall, she said, “If you hadn’t given me your business card, I wouldn’t have called you.”

We talked about a range of issues, and I came to discover that Chandra possessed a deep and diverse knowledge which would challenge that of many physically fit people.

The visually-impaired are at unavoidable disadvantages when it comes to learning. It is due to the lack of reading materials published in Braille. Unfortunately for Chandra, her love of study has always been hampered by the inaccessibility of study materials. Computer-based listening materials are available for the visually impaired, but this is a luxury for her.

Having come from Dhulikhel, one of Kathmandu’s neighboring towns, Chandra passed her School Leaving Certificate examinations in 1992. Since then, she has completed further studies, including a computer course and self-living training, in India. Sadly, due to lack of time and resources, Chandra was unable to continue her education to Master´s level.

Although she has a mother and three brothers and sisters-in-law in her family, Chandra has been living on her own for the past year. She cooks for herself and washes her own clothes while managing to teach every morning at Anam Nagar’s Rudramati Primary School. As a health and physical teacher, she teaches the schoolchildren exercises which they enjoy a great deal.

Kathmandu is not a friendly city for the visually-impaired or other physically-challenged persons. Thousands of motorbikes and cars compete on the road, yet very few stop to assist those with disabilities reach their destinations. I can only imagine how difficult these people’s lives must be when even able-bodied people find themselves lost in this merciless city.

So how does Chandra cope? Through imagination and memory. While doing her household chores, she tries to remember people, places, and things, and their orientation to her world in order to manage her daily life. She is a courageous and confident person, telling me that she made the decision to live alone after her brothers said they would take turns looking after her each month. Chandra felt this would hurt her self-esteem and would prefer to be independent.

Chandra’s main source of information is through her FM radio, learning about various issues as they are broadcast. Inspired by the power of radio, she took training to be a radio anchor, and thus hopes to be a radio program presenter one day. She would also like to own listening books to increase her knowledge, even though these are rarely available in Kathmandu.

Chandra lost her eyesight as a baby and had to learn how to survive at an early age. Although her entire world is shrouded in darkness, she keeps the light in her home switched on for the sake of others. “I think I shouldn’t keep my home in darkness, so I switch on the light.”

We talked for a long time about her life and aspirations. When she mentioned her desire for further studies, I suggested a college near her home.

Although Chandra is a great lover of dramas and her home is near the Gurukul Theater, she has never had the chance to visit there. She asked if I would take her to the theater one day, and I have promised to do so.

After visiting my office, we went to a restaurant. She loved the momos and coffee, eating each momo gently with a fork and sipping her coffee, explaining, “Noble people drink coffee this way.” I smiled at her sense of humor.

I described the scene around us as we set off on my motorbike to her home. This made her happy, remembering the Bollywood movie “Anuraag”. I have not yet had the chance to see this film, but I will watch it one day.

The next time I saw Chandra, I was accompanied by my photojournalist colleague Chandra Shekhar Karki. I wanted to interview this inspirational woman. She was happy, but said, “I don´t want our relationship to be one of a journalist and a subject to write about, but a sentimental relationship.”

Thank you, Chandra Rekha. You have reminded me of what truly matter in life but are mostly lacking in our city. Sometimes we journalists also forget the sentiments of the very people we write about.

Source for complete article: http://theweek.myrepublica.com/details.php?news_id=8903