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A weekend with those differently abled


I was pleasantly surprised when a tenth grader defeated me in chess; not that I am a grandmaster, just an average player and I did commit a couple of mistakes in the game. But the manner in which my opponent played and his finishing was near perfect. My opponent was a young boy without sight but with a lot of enthusiasm for sports, ready to play any sport undeterred by his disability.

There were more surprises in store for me this morning - we played cricket for a short while and I was impressed by his sense of timing. When people talk of free flowing strikers in the game they say it's because of great hand-eye coordination; this boy had perfect hand-ear coordination - he sensed the correct position of the thick white plastic ball and struck it cleanly almost always (there are some pebbles inside the ball which make a rattling noise as the ball moves - it is a specially designed ball for the blind). I did succeed in bowling him out on the sixth ball (by then he had already struck three wonderful shots) but for that I had to spin the ball from outside leg stump into the stumps.

Well, these children didn't have the sense of sight but they had adapted really well to make good use of their other senses and they worked extra hard to ensure they can overcome their disability. Some of the things they do are really awesome and each of them is good at something or the other. That is something that most of us don't realize in a lifetime - we don't discover what we like doing or what we are really good at and it ends up being a case of wasted talent since almost everyone is forced into the same path (engineer or doctor and after engineering it is an MBA) - follow the herd is what we most often do without knowing whether we really need to do it or not.

It is heartening to see these kids enjoy life to the fullest and trying to lead a normal schoolkid life - pulling one another's leg, fighting playfully with each other and always wanting to have a hearty laugh.

Which reminded me that we people usually don't realize the potential we have; the strength of the human heart and mind. We tend to undermine our potential and limit our growth. Problem is that most of the times we give up without trying.

"I just wish that people would realize that anything's possible, if you try; dreams are made, if people try." Terry Fox (if you haven't heard of him then do check out his history in Wikipedia and the next time you feel lazy to wake up in the morning to exercise think of him).

I learnt later that the boy with me was one of the best sportspersons in the blind school; he proudly said, "I won 3rd place in a chess tournament and got the prize from actor Vikram." And no one from the school was eager to play against him because he would invariably win the game!

I also had another pleasant surprise in the school when a boy asked me if I were a teacher since I explained things patiently! would be an interesting profession to take up.

- SS

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