I stepped out of the eatery and walked towards the end of the street to the zebra crossing. Was waiting for the traffic light above the black and white stripes to turn red so that I could safely cross. The timer for the traffic light was at 108 seconds. I took out my phone and was scanning through social media, when I heard a cane being repeatedly struck on the floor. Just as I turned towards the sound, a blind guy, who I’d say was just about my age or a little older came to a stop beside me. I noticed his cane had left the raised platform that was the sidewalk and came to rest on the road. I figured that was how he knew when to stop. Because a step further would have caused an accident
The timer was at 93 seconds now. I didn’t want to stare. Tried doing everything possible not to, but even social media couldn’t help. This wasn’t the first time I’d see a blind person. It was, however, the first time I’d see one up close; his face, features, and everything.
85 seconds left. The blind guy dug his free hand into his pocket. He was dressed smart. In a blue office shirt that was the epitome of starched and clean, while the rest of his clothes and wears were black.
I started imagining everything possible. Here is a guy that I can clearly see. The beauty of the eyes, its light, its grace. I had it, but he had lost it. Was he born this way? Or was it an accident, or an untreated eye problem? I felt remorse, bit back tears and dug my face into my phone.
“You have a kind heart”
I look up and then around to see who spoke, even though it was just the two of us at the sidewalk.
“I can feel your remorse, the feelings you are projecting, and your aura. It gives me a rough shape of how your physique is”
I still looked dazed, I couldn’t even utter a word. The blind guy was talking to me. He knew I had been staring at him all the while.
“I’m sorry for staring,” I said.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about. If I had eyes that could see, I would have stared also”
Cars kept speeding past us, people were walking in opposite directions behind us, but those seconds as they counted down to zero meant everything to me. Horns blaring didn’t even distract me for a single second.
31 seconds left…
“You really are something else,” he said “You are looking at me with a different kind of remorse. You feel pity but at the same time, you are looking at me like I am beautiful, like I am part of the few who deserves to live in this world the most. You’re conflicted for some reason, and angry for me”
“I just feel you deserve more in this life, to be able to see the beautiful world I see,” I said
23 seconds for the traffic light to turn red.
“Beauty?” he asked me with a little shock and then a grin. “You clearly can’t hear the deafening screams of those suffering. You can’t feel the anger, the despair and pain so intense that it burns my skin. I have always wondered whether this is hell, and have been thanking God that I was born this way so that I wouldn’t see what I hear, smell and feel.”
9 seconds to go…
“But you are different, for some reason, I can’t hear the screams anymore. Almost like your aura is masking them all. If there are people like you on this earth, then there is still hope yet”
3 seconds left…
“I’m glad I ran into you today”
“I wish I could see what you look like.
“For the first time in a long time, I wish I wasn’t blind” he concluded, stepped off the pavement, and onto the zebra crossing, walking to the other side with his cane striking the ground.
I stood transfixed, on the same spot that I had met him. I couldn’t even blink. I just watched him as he crossed the road with a dozen other people. Apparently, people had been gathering at the zebra crossing with the same intent we had, but I didn’t notice or hear them.
As I stood watching their backs as they crossed, something strange happened. Through all the many chit-chats and footsteps, I could still clearly hear his cane tapping the ground. It was almost sounded like a heartbeat. I felt his lips curve into a smile.