I don’t have to explain to Indians and a few others from outside the subcontinent about Lord Shiva’s third eye, elegantly portrayed in pictures of him adorning the prayer rooms of devote Hindus across the country.
Across the world, people believe in the third eye: called the Agnya Chakra in some spiritual practices. Concentrating on the Agnya chakra would open up the Kundalini, or so some practitioners of deep meditation techniques say. Please don’t quote me on this or try practicing it without training.
The point I’m trying to make here is, a person can see without actually physically seeing. Even for those who are born blind, there are methods of observation through other senses and by gleaning visual cues from people populating their environment.
My fellow blind brothers and sisters may not necessarily agree with me, since most of them confuse developing a visual sense with the desperation to belong to the world of seeing people.
But if you are blind and want to write creatively, learning to understand how things appear visually is a helpful practice.
Imagination is key to good writing. I don’t mean inventive, but forming a mental picture; what neuro linguistic programmers would call visualisation.
Years ago, I was listening to self-help and motivational speaker Skip Ross who told the story of a business man starting his day by pausing before the picture of a red Ferrari he pinned to his notice board as a means of spurring himself to performing well. The man was only wanting to buy a car that looks similar to the one on the poster, but to his surprise, he ended up buying the same one.
And yes, I hear all you sceptics out there who dismiss this as some old charlatan’s bad trick.
If you want proof of a creative and immersive book that also has visual element (albeit a minor one), pick up “The Story Of My Life” by Helen Keller or John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Milton was able to see until his thirties and so the visual component in his grandiloquent verses may not be all that surprising, but Keller is a different story.
By writing, I don’t mean dry prose, which anyone can put together flawlessly. Sharpening your senses and using it while writing a scene needs practice and, for a blind person, it needs to be intense.
The urge to write is not just the urge to express oneself, but to re-create something that exists deep down. To me, it’s a picture book with moving elements embedded in them. You open the album with the thick cover and flip through the different phases and ages of your growth. You fix your eyes on one of the pictures that trigger a scene. You are transported to a year nearly 20 years ago, and then you start telling how it felt when your dad walked away without patting you in the back for scoring well in your final exams or getting a medal in your school debate.
You may not be able to see, but developing a deeper visual imagination would help you understand the environment around you better. Sighted people develop the eye for details, while the blind can say with confidence “I can imagine!”