Happy Birthday Dear Helen Keller by Asghar Malik
All human beings go through hardships in their lives, whether they are minor, or major. How do human beings face and react to these hardships, defines the personalities and characters. There are some special people, who live a remarkable life having physical disabilities, dare to challenge limitations and expand not only life’s horizons but set high standards of achievements. They set examples of bravery, struggle, and great success for the rest of the world, and score high place in the history.
27th June is a birth anniversary of such an inspiring human being, who combined unique skills in her personality, a great daring woman Helen Keller (June 27, 1880–June 1, 1968).
Helen Keller was afflicted by a disease that left her blind and deaf, also alone in the prison of darkness and silence, at the age of eighteen months. With the aid of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, she was able to overcome her severe handicaps, to graduate from Radcliffe College, and to lead a productive and challenging adult life.
Though both blind and deaf, lecturer, prolific author, social and political American activist Helen Keller, traveled the world over, fighting for improvement in the education and life of the disabled people. Although being a woman, afflicted with physical challenges, she boldly raised her voice for the causes and issues on nature to the importance of equal opportunities for women.
According to Wikipedia an online encyclopedia, she was the first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, and she also wrote 12 published books, including her autobiography, The Story of My Life and many articles. She finely documented social issues, problems and challenges of her era, and practical solutions to marginally lowering the impact on the lives of people in her books and articles.
In the following excerpt from her autobiography, The Story of My Life (1902), Helen Keller shares her experience (1887), how the “mystery of language” revealed to her?
“Some one was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten -a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. The living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.”
And also describes her feelings passionately on that particular day of her life in the following excerpt.
“I learned a great many new words that day. I do not remember what they all were; but I do know that mother, father, sister, teacher were among them –words that were to make the world blossom for me, “like Aaron’s rod, with flowers.” It would have been difficult to find a happier child than I was as I lay in my crib at the close of that eventful day and lived over the joys it had brought me, and for the first time longed for a new day to come.”
The Miracle Worker (1962), play and the movie, which made on her autobiography, The Story of My Life, brought her passionate struggle into spotlight, and showed to the world, how she learned to communicate with the aid of Anne Sullivan, her brilliant teacher and mentor.
For the first time I heard the Helen Keller’s name while I was digging about the leading character of the movie Black (2005), produced and directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I couldn’t even imagine that the character could have been existed for real in the history. When I knew about that, it was surprising for me. Later when I read more about her, many wonders and surprises were added in my first state.
The life of Helen Keller teaches us, what can be achieved by an individual, despite the fact of having insuperable impairments of any kind. Her achievements have also had a tremendous impact upon those who are not oppressed with disabilities or impairments, compelling them to have faith that they can accomplish more than they ever thought possible.
The story of her life gives me, hope, light, great courage, and a new meaning of life. Her struggle leads me to believe more in myself. Her life’s story touches my heart and soul. I wrote this piece to pay her heartily tribute on the eve of her birth anniversary, and to say thanks, what she contributed towards the world’s betterment, and particularly positive changes, she brings in my life. I think we should all say thanks and greet her, Happy birthday dear Helen (RIP).
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller
Filed under: Short Stories | Tagged: Anne Sullivan, Anne Sullivan Macy, Birthday, Disability, Helen Keller, Human, Miracle Worker, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Story of My Life | 1 Comment »