A Hero - Being Or Not Being Blind
Balaraman P is a B1 grade blind man,
which in layman terms mean that he is totally blind. He works as a
computer training officer at an NGO 'Chakshumathy'. Till the age of
ten, Balaraman retained some remote rays of vision in his eyes after
most of it had been lost from birth. At ten, Balaraman suddenly turned
“My brother's fingers got into my eye while we
were playing,” Balaraman tells with a pleasant smile.
He probably did not realise that what
he had just said, would be considered as the greatest tragedy by the
rest of the world that could see.
Balaraman is 42 years of age.
He studied till the seventh standard at the Government School for the
Visually Impaired at Jagathy. Then he completed high school at SMV
School and passed his tenth standard in the first class. After his
pre-degree form Arts College, he enrolled for a degree course in History
at the same college. However, he decided to stop it midway.
had great difficulty in following the course. There were neither text
books in Braille script nor audio texts. With no scope left for me, I
decided it was better to quit and spend my energy somewhere else.”
Balaraman is not afraid to tell the
truth about what he thinks now about having quit then.
“If I had a
degree certificate with me I could have reached a higher position than
where I am now.”
And he also believes in the motto of it being
'never too late to start anew'.
“I have joined for a BA English
Literature course at the Kerala University. Now I have audio textbooks.
It might be a little too late but I want to give it a try nevertheless.”
After quitting college, Balaraman spent
many years working in a telephone booth near Museum Police Station. His
job was just to sit there, collect money and tpush by one more day in
his visionless life.
“People would think it is very generous of
someone to give a blind person a job so that he can earn a living. But
giving a job that requires you to sit idle in a telephone booth the
entire day is the worst job for one with an eager mind and body. Just
because someone is blind, it does not mean that he is only good for such
jobs. Instead of helping, it is in truth, rather degrading.”
his work giving him hardly any sortsatisfaction, Balaraman decided to
make up for it with his recreational life. He started playing chess, a
game at which he soon became excellent. First he beat his friends, then
members of clubs, organistions, then went on to become district
champion,, state champion and even went on to beat opponents from other
countries. Balaraman is now a 5 time state champion, one time south zone
champion, has been placed 7th in the National Tournament and 13th in
the continent of Asia in 2004.
“Keep in mind that we blind people
are at a disadvantage. Our national champion equals the state champion
in your world,” Balaraman said with a smile.
His daily visits to
the club brought him many new acquaintances and through one of them he
learned about a new software meant to aid blind people to use the
internet. Balaraman now saw the opening he had been waiting for.
was very tough. There wasn't anyone I could approach for guidance. It
took me a while, but eventually I did manage to master the entire Window
A blind man who can operate a computer
is not a ‘blind’ man at all in the technology spurred world we live in. A
job came seeking Balaraman, for training children from different parts
of the state.
“I personally know 90% of the blind people who use
computers in Kerala; they are either my students or the students of my
Balaraman is all gratitude for the progress technology
has made in recent years.
“Technology has favored us blind
people a lot. I could never have had a life like this a couple of
At 'Chakshumathy', Balaraman is also involved with preparing
audio books which the blind can 'read' by hearing them on a player.
need to read books, learn languages, get educated and gain knowledge.
That is the best thing they could do with their lives. More than anyone
else, the greatest help someone blind can have is being given the
ability to help himself. Do you know how many crores of rupees are
stolen each year from blind people by offering them 'special treatments'
and immediate power of vision? Most by-birth blindness is incurable.
Yes, it is disappointing, but in no way a life arresting thing; life is
still great even being blind, I know that for a fact.”
lives with his family consisting of his wife and two children. His wife
is partially blind; they met each other at work and marriage soon
followed. How did he judge the beauty of his woman?
“There is a way minds interact with
each other, plus the way they talk and the way they move around; all
these tell a lot about the person. I think we are better off compared to
you on that department, I think we could judge people more accurately
since disguising appearances can't fool us.”
Balaraman is a busy
man at 'Chakshumathy'. People walk in to see him regularly, students want to be
guided and in between he has several phone calls to attend to. Before
meeting him, I had asked him for directions to 'Chakshumathy' and Balaraman had
given me the instructions over the phone. It was only after I got there,
without any difficulty that it struck me that I was there to meet a
blind man. When I left, he was sitting, well dressed and composed,
behind a computer and doing his work and this time I had to force myself
to remember that Balaraman was a man who happened to be blind.
Balaraman is the mentor and the Chief Training Officer of the NGO 'Chakshumathy' and is Yentha's unsung hero of the week.