Even though the window is closed, I am able to feel the chill wind outside, thanks to a small crack on the right corner glass pane. I go near the window and touch the glass panes, the cold moisture in them giving me an inexplicable chill. I move my index finger over it, round and round, hoping it would make on the moist glass, the pattern that I have in my mind. And I wish, mom would allow me to go out and feel the flakes of snow…
Bella says snow is white in color. I wonder what is white, because I have never known any other color in my life, except black.
Black – the color of my life. All my life I have known but one color, black. I remember the time when I used to be just a life form, during my childhood. Being born deaf, dumb and blind, there was no way I could know where or what or who I was. I was wary of everything that I touched, everything I smelt, everything I sensed. Except for my mother, the only person I used to recognize by touch and smell, and the only person I used to let near me. All other smells or touches were dangerous to my young mind.
I knew not the colors of the day or night, not the faces of my mom or my dad. I did not know what a smile was, or what flowers were. I had no language, no words, and no meanings for anything. I did not even know what my mom thrust inside my mouth each time my stomach rumbled, which made that rumbling stop! Food and waters were just some unknown substances that I knew were safe only because it was mom who was putting them inside my mouth.
My life would have passed on like that, without me living it, had not my teacher come along. He taught me letters, words, meanings. He taught me what word should be associated with the sweet smell of flowers, and the warm tickle of the morning sun. He taught me how I should walk, how I should sit, how I should eat… he taught me to live. Under his guidance, I finished my schooling at home. He instilled in me the urge to accomplish something. And because of him, I decided to go to college.
College was one place where, though I struggled, I enjoyed a lot. For the first time in my life I was away from home, with only Bella to look after me. No mom, no dad. My teacher moved in the house adjacent to mine. Though he used to take me to college, sit with me during the lectures and write the words the lecturers uttered onto my hand so that I understood, he slowly started keeping away from me so that I became independent. He brought me a walking stick, and taught me to walk alone, calculating the distance of my destinations in my mind.
With the descriptions that he used to make about my fellow students and my surroundings, I used to envision them in my mind. I used to imagine the smiles on me classmates faces when they applauded me each time I got up to participate in some discussion in the conference room. Somehow, being in their midst would enthuse me to no extent.
My only ambition was to get my degree. But that somehow kept eluding me. What my classmates managed to achieve in three years, I could not achieve even after ten years. I would have not continued, would have given up, if not for my teachers words. He used to say, “You lament that your world is black. But do you even realize the significance of that color? Black is the color of success, the color of achievement, the color, of wisdom. That is why the color of the graduation robe is black. It is the color that instills confidence that light is not far away. You should attain your goal one day, because that will give the true meaning of your life. Never say you can’t. Your life is black. Be proud of it. And strive to give a meaning to that blackness.”
And today, after twenty years, at the age of forty, I have attained my goal. I have successfully passed the last of my exams and am going to receive my degree, in the black robe. My teacher had to leave me due to some health problems. His departure did devastate me, but I carried on, deriving strength from his words. Today, all his hard work, right from the day he came and touched my hand, has borne fruit. The animal that he had to encounter in his first meeting has become a fully civilized, educated, independent and self-reliant graduate today!
“Anne! Close that window! The snow flakes are coming inside the room!” I hear old Bella cry from the kitchen. But I am enjoying the snow. As the soft feathery flakes kiss my cheeks I imagine myself standing on the podium tomorrow receiving my degree, adorned in the black robe. I only wish my teacher can somehow make it to the ceremony, to see his pupil fulfill his greatest wish in life.