Colors of Her Prism
Ren was born blind. She didn’t know who she looked like, what it meant to ‘see’ or to differentiate colors. Even though her world was majestic and plentifully beautiful in every way, Ren could not see and feel through her eyes. Her parents had broken up before her birth and her mother had left her in the neonatal ICU for good. She didn’t have anyone. Everyone knew; the hospital staff, the doctors and the patients, everyone had heard her story. A blind baby, with nowhere to go, no place to call home.
Nine months after her birth, a homeless man was admitted to the hospital due to severe malnutrition. He was treated as a charity case and recovered soon enough. While he stuck around, he also heard about Ren; how a blind baby whose mother had abandoned her was being temporarily cared for by the nurses in the NICU. Although he was without a home himself and a middle-aged chain smoker at that, he took it upon himself to care for Ren and give her a home in spite of bearing no possessions. The hospital was initially reluctant to agree but after months went by without anyone even bothering to offer help and persistent pleas from the man, it gave away the blind baby. ‘Better to have someone care for it somewhere else than take up this troublesome responsibility’, thought the hospital. Even the orphanages nearby had refused Ren from the start. There was no place for her.
The homeless man took her ‘home’, to his shelter; a tent by the side of a pebbled stream somewhere between the city and the neighboring town. It didn’t have much for furniture. Just an old used car backseat with holes poked into it. The cotton, felt and whatever mixture of fabrics used to stuff it protruded like little fat worms coming out to eat their morning meal. The man looked around for some sanitary place to put the bassinet onto. He found a relatively cleaner area to set the baby and decided to tidy up. With what little he had, he tidied the place. The hospital had given him some helpful items to care for the baby. Gazing thoughtfully at Ren, he re-winded his life until then.
He was lost and alone in his life. He had been a successful manager at a stock exchange company but when the Chairperson was arrested on innumerable charges of embezzlement, the firm went bankrupt and everyone lost everything. He had pinned all his hopes and money on the job, but everything went down the drain and he could not save a penny. He was illustrious in his work, had always been, in school and through college. Now having lost everything, he was too depressed to even try. He left his home and parents to live the life of a wanderer, eating what charity gave out and wearing whatever was provided by friendly pedestrians. He did not bother finding work again and had lost motivation. But when he heard of Ren, the human compassion buried deep inside and the will to provide for her and give her a life no one at the hospital could, made him ask and plead for her. The hospital had wanted to get rid of such abnormal births, abandonment cases and all because it would reflect upon its reputation.
Now that he had Ren, he strove to do well.
And he did. He worked again. He found jobs that would help him nurture her. He worked for her, endlessly sacrificing his own interests and getting rid of distractions. He rented a motel room and began teaching her everyday life. He found a unique way of communicating with the child. Through his voice and the feel of their fingers, he taught her how to speak and to dance. He groomed her beautiful brown hair and washed her smooth baby face, sung her lullabies until they both fell asleep. He carved a room for her inside his heart.
Things were not easy. At times, he could see her desperation while trying to understand Ren or the disheartened grunt when she could not acknowledge how beautiful the sun was, how it rained like pearls, how the grass was green; just common everyday things we all fail to appreciate. But undeterred in his aim, the man made her see through her heart. The understanding developed between them was not short of the love between a mother and her blood. The love, this love they shared was beyond boundaries and everything that holds our imagination. Their love was beyond sight.
Gradually Ren began to grow and when she turned 10, a gift approached her. She was taken to an eye center where the doctors helped her regain her sight. She could not believe this was happening. She could not understand how. She could see after 10 years of being in darkness. Her eyes were uncovered and slowly she opened them. Only one eye was restored its sight but she was happy nonetheless. She cried. She could see. Ren took in everything, every color, every prism at once. She was happy; more than happy, she was thankful. She asked around for her guardian. The doctor pointed to the bed on her left. She turned and saw an ancient figure, with an eye patch on the right eye and understood. He had given her everything, provided for her, went to bed hungry for her. This complete stranger who she was not related to had now even given her the gift of sight.
He lovingly sighed and asked her, ‘Now that you see, what is your favorite color, Ren?’
Holding back tears of contentment, her lips quivering, hands tied into knots, she exclaimed, ‘It’s you.’