Movies, food, travel, nature, life, work; he speaks about lots of things he loves. And he seems to love a lot more things than most of us do. The wonderment in his voice is infectious. Mundane everyday experiences seem special. Through his eyes, everything is impossibly nuanced and amazingly layered.
Except, he has eyes that can’t see. Nagi was born blind.
Reva and I couldn’t take our eyes off him. We were captivated by his worldview and were curious to know how he found his way to such a fantastic world.
His unselfconscious attitude made it easy for us to ask questions we would have felt awkward asking someone with a handicap. It became a playful interaction.
“Describe me, Nagi,” I said. I have the voice of a larger sized man.
“Stand up Ranjan.”
“Now say something.”
“You are about five and a half feet tall.”
I was speechless.
It isn’t uncommon for people to feel that way with him. Once on a walk with Reva he wanted to know what tree they were under.
“I think it’s a coconut tree,” Reva told him.
He waited, tried to sense it and said, “It doesn’t seem like one. Take me to it.”
He felt the trunk and conclusively announced, “It’s a date palm.”
“What’s green for you Nagi?” I was ready to be amazed further.
“Green is a feeling you feel when there’s a cool breeze; you hear a certain kind of birdcalls and insects, and the smell you smell right now.”
“Smell? What smell Nagi?”
“There’s a smell in the air; it’s green.”
This is how he describes colours. Colours for him are feelings you feel. Multi-layered feelings. While for us they’ve always been just visual perceptions. And our perceptions haven’t changed much since someone in our childhood pointed to green and said “green” in a tone that said, “That, and nothing else in the world is called green.”
And unlike for Nagi, our exploration ended right there. Exploring further would have meant questioning that someone. And questioning would have meant disrespect. Besides, you don’t question facts. Do you?
Our hindsight thanks to the ‘Nagi experience’ tells us that there are as many greens in the world as people. And all are constantly evolving.
Our hindsight also tells us that not all our greens are green for him. Only nature-made ones are; because he can sense them with all his senses. Just the way nature wants us to.
None of the man-made greens are green for him; they are more like proxies of green; too superficial; too devoid of dimensions; and too transactional. Just like us; and the world we were born in.
Stay in your true world of colours, Nagi.
It’s too fantastic for us. We are handicapped.
Image Courtesy: Noor Malik