Friday, January 15, 2010

Take nothing and no one for granted

Be thankful for your lot, love and respect all God's creation

AY is a single lady in her forties. She has been working as a masseuse for the past 13 years. She is good at what she does. She seems down to earth and easy to strike up conversations with. I guess that's why she has many regular customers who call her directly for her services, instead of calling the centre to make an appointment.

What's special about her is not only her massaging skills. She is sight impaired. In current less politically correct terms, she is blind, totally. But that does not stop her from living life, learning a skill appropriate for her condition, earning her keep and taking care of herself.

There are many others like AY who are partially or completely blind, young and old, who have learnt skills like massage, reflexology, basket weaving, etc from charitable organisations, help centres and associations like the Malaysian Association for the Blind. I applaud these places for helping these people get on with life. I applaud people like AY who have the courage and desire to get on with life despite what life has thrown at them.

AY was not born blind. She told me that her sight slowly deteriorated and was discovered only when she started going to school. She went to a Chinese school and those days, she used to get beaten for not writing the Mandarin characters correctly, missing out certain strokes etc. Little did she or the teacher know that she had trouble seeing. It was only when the teacher decided to write the words much larger for her to scrutinise the strokes that they discovered her eyesight problem.

She related her story as if it was just a story, without much emotion. She sounded positive, saying that at least she had known what being able to see felt like.

Over the years, she had undergone numerous surgeries. She had to, according to her, as she could not live life seeing double or triple of everything in front of her, getting headaches all the time.

But after one final operation, she went blind completely. At first, she felt disappointed and sad but according to her, time healed. A friend had asked if she was prepared for the possibility of going blind and she said it did cross her mind. With support from friends (not so much family, according to her) and given time, she managed to pick up the pieces and move on.

It appears to me she has adjusted well to life in darkness, walking around with her cane, knowing where to go and using her other senses to 'see'. She even laughed when she told me how she kept falling into drains when she was newly blind. She said she kept forgetting that she could not see and went walking about as if she could.

In the one hour I spent with her in a dimly-lit room, where she was pretty adept at loosening some knots and tightness (albeit causing some pain!) around my neck and shoulder area, I was reminded not to take everything we have for granted. It was my first time meeting her as I had not been to that place for quite some time. It was a meeting made in heaven, like for everything that happens in life the way I see it.Coincidentally, an 'uncle' in his 70s, said "marriages are made in heaven", when we were waiting at school a few hours after my encounter with AY.

We need to be good stewards of what the One above, whatever name we choose to call Him - Lord, God, Jesus, Buddha, Al*ah (or I can't use this word now?? Sigh...)- has blessed us with.

And we need to treat everyone with love and respect, regardless whether they are blind, handicapped, rich, poor, young, old, differ in views or opinions.

That's my 2 cents' worth for today. I paid RM40 for one hour with AY but the 2 cents I got in return is pretty valuable.

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