Rachel and I waited excitedly at the reception area of Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Dialogue in the Dark area. We were about to experience to dine like blind persons, in complete darkness. We were asked to leave behind everything that might produce light like watches, phones, etc. because these might interfere with our simulated blindness. They informed us on the table arrangement and all, but not about the 3-course meal that we were about to enjoy in complete darkness.
Accompanied by our blind guide, Kah Yong (or Kah Yu?), we started to enter the dark room. We were asked to hold onto each other’s shoulders. I was the first one, hence, I was holding on to Kah Yong shoulders, blindly listening to his instructions. Ironically, in this environment, the blind is guiding the visual ones. They are used to this darkness….and for me it was a shock.
Fear sets in. I was afraid. I opened and closed my eyes, and there was no difference. Not a single flicker of light was present. I panicked and my hands were sweating tremendously. I was giddy, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I told Kah Yong and he just told me to close my eyes and tell him if I couldn’t take it anymore.
To my relief, I wasn’t the only one feeling these. It was assuring to hear that I wasn’t getting into a heart attack or something. My eyes were tearing though, endlessly. I told Rachel that if there was a camera, taking videos of people’s reactions, they might think I was crazy. While people are busy talking, I started to imagine. “What if, I was born blind or suddenly blind? What if, when I get out of this room, suddenly, I couldn’t anymore see?” I started missing seeing colours.
Kah Yong asked us to pour water on our cups. The water pitcher was at the centre of the table, while the cups were at 1pm location. The first person bravely felt were the pitcher was, pass in around and my turn came, hmmm how would I know if my cup’s full? I just poured a little just to make sure. How do blind people do this? Well, according to Kah Yong, there’s a device that helps them do this by alarming if the cup is almost full, but most of them don’t use this. They would usually rely on its weight and sound. Impressive it was!
They served the soup. While still crying, I placed the bowl close to my lips and started eating the soup. It was delicious. I could only taste it, and eavesdrop on people’s conversations. I couldn’t think, I just kept on eating while crying, imagining the food I was eating and eavesdropping at the same time.
Kah Yong served the main course, pasta and chicken. Rachel exclaimed “ I lost my fork” haha.. Well, I couldn’t help her. She then just realised, after using her knife to eat pasta, that her fork fell into her plate. Haha The struggle here was I couldn’t ascertain if my food was already finished. I used my fork and felt the plate back and forth, it felt empty. Then, I realized that I dropped a lot of pasta noodles on the table while I was eating it. I felt them and cleaned them with tissue.
We, I mean, someone from our table kept on talking to Kah Yong while I was busy “multi-tasking”. He’s fifty years old, using an Iphone with a lot of impressive apps for blind people. (I do not even own an IPhone) He seemed not bothered by his disability, while I was suffering, and to think, this only has to go on for an hour. I was impressed at the same time, I was thankful!
I started to appreciate that my senses are all complete and that realization made me even more emotional. I realized how hard it was to be blind and some of our blind brothers and sisters are living with this disability each and every day. Kah Yong said, they could still function as per normal except that it’ll be slightly slower, and sometimes, with the guidance of a visual person.
I also came to think that blindness can have some positive effects in the community and the blind person themselves, like:
- Other senses are heightened. Tactile, hearing, olfactory and taste. This happens because of our brain’s amazing ability to compensate.
- Concept of beauty and physicality, races and all these superficial stuff aren’t an issue. It feels easier to make peace.
- Deeper conversations can immerse due to absence of visual distractions.
- I can hold someone’s hand and that someone will hold my hand back, to guide and support.
Though of course, the last one may not be true to everyone but I’ve always been a believer to the concept that “humans are naturally good”.
Anyway, to end this story, I have to say that, dining in the dark was a unique experience that I will always remember. I was able to “see” with my heart and eat using my brain (imagination).
Can I just say that, I shall now, take care of my eyes, have it checked and wear specs. I am in denial for a long time and I kept on refusing habilitation!
THANK YOU LORD FOR MY EYES AND MY ABILITY TO SEE!
Visit their page:http://www.dialogueinthedark.com.sg/DiD/Pages/default.aspx