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Posts Tagged ‘love’

Seeing Anew

I’ve always thought that the hardest sense to lose would be sight. It’s such a difficult thing to imagine, living in a world of darkness. I love music, and not to be able to hear would be awful, but somehow loss of sight seems so much more terrifying.

I remember researching for a project in high school on “great” people in Australian history, and deciding that the work of Fred Hollows was simply incredible. It’s funny, because I’ve just started seeing all those advertisements around on the bus shelters and billboards in the city, the ones where Fred Hollows is holding this kid’s head back to show the camera where the disease has stuffed up his eyesight. I try and imagine how it must have felt to be that kid, hearing the sound of cameras and people and maybe not having a clue what was going on.

Anyway. I digress. That picture at the start of my post is one I took with my phone camera – I swear it seems to be better quality than my actual digital camera – on my way through Sydney Uni to get to the RPA. The hospital had called to say that The Girl (whose name I still don’t know, and neither do the hospital) had had extensive surgery on her foot, and they had hopes that she would recover with time and physiotherapy. I was sort of acting on a whim, feeling some sort of obligation to go and see her, though not with any real purpose in mind.

I took a seat in the waiting room while a nurse conferred with several doctors about whether I should be allowed in to see her. It seemed that something had changed since they had called me. Sitting next to me was an elderly man, wearing very dark glasses and carrying a cane. I didn’t really know what to do with myself – usually I would give a sort of friendly smile to someone I was sitting next to, but that would obviously be a useless gesture in this situation. Not to say anything seemed unfriendly or detached, but then to go out of my way to actually speak seemed a little presumptuous – we didn’t even know each other – and even condescending. With these thoughts rushing through my mind, I shifted a little in my chair, and the man turned to me.

“Who are you waiting for?” he asked.

Phenomenally relieved that the tension had been broken so easily, I responded eagerly. “A girl. Actually I don’t know her very well, but she was hurt and I brought her here on Sunday.”

He nodded. “A girl, eh. Of course. Is she beautiful?”

“Well, yes, I suppose. Probably not when you see her face for the first – ” I faltered, cursing my stupidity.

But the man only chuckled. “Ah yes, but it is not the face which is important. The girl I once loved,” he murmured confidingly, leaning towards me, “had the most exquisite voice in the world. So pure and light, it was almost like a bird – no, a butterfly, a white butterfly winging through your soul. I remember when I first heard it, I thought I had eavesdropped on an angel.” He sighed.

“How old were you?” I asked. I was entranced by his story.

“Much, much younger. Young and stupid, probably like you. I thought I was invincible, that no goal was too far for me to reach. That’s what got me into this mess.” He gestured towards his sunglasses. “She was always far too high up for me, but we loved each other. Let me tell you something, never love a girl whose parents are rich enough to cause ‘accidents’, hmm? Especially do not get her pregnant with twins. You’ll end up like this, wandering in the night desert. Sometimes those high walls are there for a reason.” He shook his head wistfully. I had no words left to speak.

We sat in silence for a few minutes, until the nurse came back to tell me I could come back tomorrow instead, but that the Girl (“your friend”) was in no state to have visitors at the moment, which I assumed meant she was still coming down off whatever she was on.

I wanted to say something to the old man before I left, but I found it too difficult to form my thoughts into speech. Instead I muttered something halfway between “thankyou” and “goodbye”, and walked away.

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