So, here we are … after a few entries about my blind friend, I am sat at her computer doing a ‘live interview’ (in reality, I ask her questions, type down the answers and post the blog … I guess that’s about as live as it can be). Anyway, here we go …
Hi, please tell us something about your background.
Well, I am a Kenyan Asian and was sent to England for my education when I was 5 years old. At the time I spoke no English and it was a bit ‘sink or swim’ at boarding school so I had to learn quickly! I grew up as a ‘3rd culture kid’. I was born blind into a culture that does not look favourably on disability, so it was pretty difficult in some ways, not only for me but also for my mum and dad: you know, there’s a feeling that someone is to blame!
If I was ask you to introduce us to your world what would you say?
Well, it’s different for everyone, but for me … well here goes. Although I have no light perception or concept of darkness, I see my world in many ways as the same as everyone else’s: colourful; imaginative; it can be annoying or frustrating; it can be restricted by the availability/non-availability and views/opinions of others. I often need plenty of humour, tolerance and grace and a large dose of forgiveness.
When did you discover music?
It’s always been around me. I was born right into the middle of a musical family, but I guess my earliest memory is from when I was about 3. However, I really discovered it for myself when I came to UK and played the piano for the first time when I was 5. I soon realised that I could guess notes when I heard them (aged 7) but I didn’t realise that this was ‘perfect pitch’ until someone else told me what it was called.
When did you discover that colour was important to you?
When I was a little girl I always liked pink but I didn’t (and still don’t) know why; perhaps someone told me it was a nice colour. But colour became much more importance when I was in my mid teens, I guess when every girl takes an interest in those sorts of things.
And why is colour so important to you, especially if you can’t see it?
A very good question and I have to admit I’ve no idea really. People don’t think that colour should be important to blind people, you know, what difference does it make if they can’t see it? But I guess that’s one reason why it’s doubly important to me; because I can’t see it and enjoy the privilege. And I can enjoy it even though I can’t see it. As far as I’m aware we can’t see the air but we’re much worse off without it … we die. Colour to me is part of me that I can’t really explain (or see) but if you took it away from me or denied me the pleasure of imagining it, part of me would die. Hope that helps!
What do you think of when you hear the word creativity?
Passion; freedom; running wild; imagination … stuff like that really. It’s like someone putting you in a big field and saying you can run where you want (though I personally may have a few practical problems with that bit!) and do what you like. If I was to draw a picture of creativity it would be of a deer running in a field or birds soaring high; a picture of freedom. A bit like standing on top of the world.
Where or when do you think you are most creative?
Definitely on my piano … and also when I’m swapping handbags around; I feel a bit like an interior designer, working on a house … it’s something new; something I can start from the beginning.
Any funny stories?
Yeah! Lots. But one not so funny thing that happened, and which I still haven’t forgiven her for, was when my guide dog ate more than a kilo of my favourite Bombay mix that had been specially sent to me by my mum and dad in Kenya. The after effects were apparently spectacular and colourful (so a sighted friend told me!).
Well, that end’s our chat. Thanks for sharing your insights with us. I have found them very challenging and encouraging.
To end with I’ve included a poem I wrote with the help of my friend to try and share something of the challenges of dealing with sighted people!
I MAY BE BLIND
Although my eyes don’t work too well;
I have two ears which surely do.
Plus a cerebrum and a conscience.
I may be blind, but I can speak to you.
I also hear those unspoken comments,
The pity and tension in your voice.
But I don’t bite, so please, relax!
I may be blind, but it’s not by choice.
I care for myself and my guide dog;
It’s not as amazing as you make out.
I wash the pots and do the housework,
I may be blind, but I’m not down and out.
And when I’m walking with my guide dog,
I have a name as well as she.
My name is Amy; I am her owner.
I may be blind, but she listens to me!
Her name is Isla and I love her.
She is my eyes; I call her ‘Lid’.
But I’m the one who gives the orders.
I may be blind, but I’m not stupid!
So don’t dismiss me because I’m different;
Beneath the surface we’re just the same.
I may view life from a different angle,
And I may be blind, but I have a name.
We’re flesh and blood; emotions; people!
We’re no different you and me!
We’re both exactly as God has planned us.
I may be blind … so what!