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Tanaya Saha



Tanaya Saha


Light In Darkness

Light In Darkness

20 mins

“Ufff…what a hectic and tedious day I had?”

Bogged down by the scorching heat of the sun, and after attending tedious and mind-numbing lectures throughout the day, I was irritated and exhausted. It was time to return home for soothing my tiring soul, so, I reached Tollygunge metro station. Like every day, the long line at the ticket counter annoyed me. Being squeezed throughout the day; I was sweaty, exhausted, and thirsty, and was in no mood to stand in the line for buying a ticket. However, having no option, I had to stand in the queue when my mobile phone started ringing. The call was from an unknown number. As I picked up the phone there was a push from behind. I became furious and shouted, “Who is it? Can’t you see and walk?” Of course, it was the most unwanted call–Vodafone customer service–which made me more irritated, and I hung up the phone. Then I turned around to see who the hell it was. I saw that a middle-aged woman was standing behind me.

I told, “Why did you push me? You must be careful while walking. You can’t just hit anybody.”

She smiled, “Sorry. I didn’t notice you.”

“Please make use of your beautiful eyes.”

She calmly said, “I can’t see.”


I was stunned for a while and carefully noticing her, I saw that she was carrying a walking stick. I felt ashamed of myself.

“Can you please get me a ticket along with yours?” she said.

I took the money from her hand and asked her, “Where are you heading forth?” 

“Dum Dum.”

I took both the tickets. She also requested me to help her to board the train. So, we boarded the train together, and I also helped her to get a seat.

“What do you do?” she asked.

“I am a student.”

“You are a beautiful child of God,” she told.

I was feeling guilty and embarrassed about my misbehavior and begged for pardon.

“Don’t feel embarrassed. It’s not your fault. My eyes are beautiful. I love my eyes.”

Her words mesmerized me. I looked at her beautiful eyes. They are so expressive that it is really difficult for anybody to understand that she is visually impaired. I said, “Truly. Your eyes are…” I could find no words to express myself. She gave a sweet smile.

The train was moving, and I was becoming inquisitive to know why had she come from DumDum to Tollygunge? So, I asked her “Where from are you coming?”

“Tollywood,” she replied; “I went for an audition in Aparna Sen’s upcoming movie.” 

 I was startled, “Are you kidding me? How can you become an actor? And that too in the motion picture of Aparna Sen?”

“What made you think that I am joking? It’s a long story and I had to traverse a long route to experience this day.”

I became eager to hear her story, “At least you have an interesting story to share; I would love to hear it. By the way, DumDum is at least an hour away. What can be better than a story?”

“Yes, of course… a story indeed. So, are you ready to fasten your seatbelts to ride the time machine?”

“Absolutely! I am excited to take the ride.”

“My story starts with a small question. Have you ever been at the mercy of others?”

“Sometimes, I guess.”

“And what about growing up at the mercy of others?”

“Sorry, no idea about that…”

“Well, then you are lucky enough. But a girl child, who is born blind, has to bear this since her birth. People showed sympathy towards me. My parents loved me but were sad and uncertain about my future. Someone has to be always with me for taking care of my needs. I was unable to do anything on my own. You know, I still shiver, when I think about those days.” I could see the fear on her face. She took a deep breath and continued, “As a child, I used to think that everybody took care of me because they loved me. But gradually I realized that they were sympathizing with me. They acted as if they were doing me a favor by taking care. How stupid of me!” Her face was becoming pale in despair.

I held her hands. “You were just a kid. Don’t be upset. By the way, it feels great to hold the hand of a celebrity of tomorrow. Can I get an autograph in advance?”

She felt shy and with a sweet smile, said, “Now, you are pulling my legs.”

“You don’t know; my friends call me an ‘Autograph-Hunter’.”

“Friends…” she exhaled deeply, “You know, I had no friends. Who would become a friend of a girl, who cannot see, cannot run, and cannot play around? You have no idea, how much I wanted to run, play…” Nodding her head, she started murmuring, “My mother was my only friend. She always… always gave me company. She used to play with me. I still remember her bedtime stories. When I had nightmares, she used to embrace me tightly to her bosom.”

Saying this she became silent. I saw her eyes became wet.

“She was the only one to understand your pain,” I said.

“Many times I felt tears rolling down her chicks, but could never understand why she cried holding me firmly. Now I do…”

The train stopped at Esplanade, and many passengers came rushing. But even in the hustle and bustle, her words were reverberating in my mind.

The train started to leave the station when she asked, “Where have we reached?”


All of a sudden, I realized that she had traveled alone from DumDum to Tollugunge. It is very dangerous. She could have got knocked down by any vehicle or get hurt. “Have you come alone to Tollywood?”

“Yes, I travel alone. I don’t want to be a burden on anybody. My school plays a great role in making me self-dependant.”

“So, you have been to school.”

“Yes. I was five when I got admitted to a blind school. Learning was a mammoth experience. It was my first experience with sounds… those sounds, which previously made me baffled. For the first time, I sensed how the movement of lips and tongue could generate sound. I cannot tell you how I felt when I started to connect to the world by sound. The world was opening to me. I am very thankful to my teachers. They took great pain to teach us.”

“Wow… that’s really amazing. Knowing the world through sounds!”

“Yes. After learning the sound of letters, I was taught how to read those letters in brail script. Brail script has made it easy for me to read books, though it takes ample time to read and write in brail script.”

Saying this, she gave a mischievous smile. “You have so many friends. Is there anyone special?”

“The quest is on. Aha, I got you. You seem to have someone special. Right?”

She giggled. “Yes. Back at school, I made my first friend, Nantu. I could never know how he looked like, but his voice is very sweet.”

“Love at first sound?”

“You are very naughty, I must say.” She laughed. “He made my tough school days the golden days of my life.”

“Your school life is quite different from mine. Now I really have to envy you. I was like a beast, carrying the burden of books on my back… how have you come in the world of acting?”

“I never knew that I wanted to become an actor, but with the passing of years, I slowly realized that I need to overcome my limitations. I was trying to find a way, which would help me to earn my livelihood, and would give me an identity as well. I wanted to gain respect, not sympathy. Meanwhile, I passed the class ten board exam. I wanted to pursue higher studies, so I got enrolled in a higher secondary school. I also started working in my school, where I helped teachers to teach students how to read and write. However, I was not satisfied and wanted to do something bigger.”

“So, you decided to stand outside the crowd.”

“Wait, wait, it was not that easy. Life is not a dish of sweets, and that’s the beauty of life. To be honest, I am from a very well-to-do family. There is no need for me to earn money. I could have lived like a queen in my home. But I chose the life that I am living in today. I was tired of being at other’s sympathy. As I grew up, I understood that people took advantage of my father because of me. I decided to become the strength of my father and not a burden for him.”

“Really impressive—where did you get the inspiration of becoming an actor?”

“As I told, becoming an actor was not my aim, but I wanted to show the world that I can earn my livelihood and can also take care of myself. There was a fire burning within me which gave me the power. I wanted to break free.”

“You are just saying what I think. But…”

“Remove the ‘but’ from your life; you will see there are so many doors opened before you. We close the doors ourselves, not others.” She continued, “As I was madly trying to find a way to be independent, the opportunity came to me like a ray of hope.”


“One day, while I was returning from school, I heard an announcement that a theatre group of blind actors will be performing in the Minerva hall. I couldn’t believe my ears neither could I resist from going there. So, along with Nantu I went and bought two tickets for us so that I could meet the members of the group. Frankly speaking, I was having doubts before I met them. But after meeting them and talking with actors and the director, I got a new direction in my life.”

“How did you decide to take acting as your career?”

“I did not decide. I thought of giving it a try.”


“Actually, the meeting with the theatre group triggered me, and I placed a proposal before the principal of my school to arrange a workshop for blind students so that they can find a way to lead a respectful life. It was from here that my journey of becoming an actor began.”

I noticed as she said these words, there was a beautiful smile on her face. Her smile reflected not only happiness but also a sense of aspiration of being able to achieve something in life. By this time, our train had crossed a few stations. I was engrossed in thoughts when she suddenly asked me, “What do you want to become in life?”

I was speechless and did not know what to say. Her words made me think about what I really want from life. I realized I have been running behind marks, career, etc. and have never thought of my own desires. I felt as if someone told me to stop, and think about my aspirations. As these words were echoing in my mind, she again asked me the same question. I slowly replied, “I don’t know. I have never thought about it.”

She became silent for a moment and then said, “It’s not late. You can still fulfill your dreams once you know it. Always remember, it’s your life, don’t let others dictate it.”

“Hmm… But like other ordinary people, I have never dared to think out of the box.”

“My dear, you should, because only thoughts can make you extraordinary. I could have chosen a life of luxury, but luxury would have come with a price tag of sympathy. Today, I have proved my existence in the world. It is not an extremely tough job, you know. But one needs to go beyond the obvious. Therein lays the thrill of being different.”

“Isn’t it difficult to be different?”

“It is always difficult to stand outside the norms, as there will be very few to support you. People will always discourage you. There will be many hurdles in your way, but if you can overcome them, success lays ahead. I took that step, and see, I am sitting in front of you as I am today.”

“Your words are enchanting. You can mesmerize people with your words. I don’t think there was any need for you to learn acting. Theatre flows through your veins. You are a born actor.”

“We are all born actors as Shakespeare said…”

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”

“Yes.” She smiled. “But you know we all need to polish our skills. I started to learn acting from the workshop, I told you about. The blind theatre group that was invited to our school is known as Blind Opera. The workshop continued for three weeks and it was a great learning experience. I wanted to learn more about acting. So, I joined the theatre group.”

“How was the experience? Did all of them accept you as a part of the theatre group?”

“Hmm. I got a very warm welcome. They were very happy to find a new member joining. You know the funniest part was that they were all very much curious about my looks and so was I. I even heard them talking about my looks.”

“How is it possible? None of them can see, right?”

“Yeah…the actors can’t see but two members of the group have eyesight. One is our director, and the other one is the scriptwriter. Actually, he is not just a scriptwriter; he assists our director in all possible ways, necessary for the group.”

“Does he act also?”

“Very rare…only if any actor becomes ill during any performance.”

“It seems that he is an all-rounder.”

“Yes. Without him, our group would be like a fish without water.”

“That’s true. Tell me one thing; did you start acting with others on the very first day?”

“No. The director introduced me to the rest of the group members. He also told me, ‘You have beautiful, expressive eyes. Make proper use of them while you act.’ I was dumb hearing his words. Until that day, I never knew that my eyes are beautiful. ‘How can I make use of my eyes?’ This question haunted me the whole evening.”

Saying this, she took a deep breath. There was a sweet smile on her face and her eyes were glowing. “That was just the beginning and I was both joyful and anxious. There was a long way that I had to stride before I could act on stage. I underwent training of six months and finally, the long-awaited day came—the day of my first performance on stage.”

“How was the experience? Were you afraid?”

“Of course I was. After all, it was my first performance—but the experience was splendid. I still remember the resounding voices around me as I entered the stage. I felt as if I was watching the audience talking, giggling, passing comments among them. I feared that I may forget the dialogues. It went pretty well though I made a few mistakes. When the play was over, I heard the sound of clapping. I felt as if I am standing before an audience of the waves, whispering in my ears, ‘encore… encore…’ I can never forget… those sounds are still resonating in my soul.”

“Waahhh… you must have felt that you are on the top of the world.”

“That was the first time when I felt the thrill as if a shiver went through my spine.”

“Your parents must have felt proud.”

“Hmm. All appreciated but…”

She became quiet and took a deep breath. Her eyes were glittering, but her facing expression changed which seemed as if in the midst of achievement, a pain of failure impinged her.


“Our director was not happy though pleased with my acting. He told, ‘You have more potential and you need to explore it.’ I understood that he has high expectations. I started giving more time to practicing and slowly and gradually sharpened my acting skills.”

“So, now you are ready to act in Tollywood.”

“That I don’t know, but I am confident about my acting skills. It has been almost eight years…”

“That’s great. I am asking too many questions. Hope you don’t mind.”

“It’s absolutely fine.”

In the meantime, our train had crossed a few more stations and was heading towards the last stoppage, only a handful of passengers was left on the train. But I didn’t want to end the conversation halfway. Her words were opening before me a new world of experiences. I was becoming more and more curious to know about how she got the opportunity of giving audition in Tollywood. In order to quench my thirst of inquisitiveness, I could not stop myself from asking her, “How have you been trained? Without seeing how can you act?”

“Hold on… Hold on… Oh! You are asking too many questions.”


“It’s alright. Learning to act is very difficult for us. But our theatre group has taught us to overcome that hurdle.”

“But… how?”

“With the dint of hard work and practice, and of course, our director’s contribution is unfathomable. Without him, there should never have been a blind theatre group.”


“It’s because Blind Opera is the first blind theatre group in Asia. Though many eminent persons have been associated with this theatre group, he has spent his whole life to make our theatre group a success.”

“How is it possible for you to act? Please don’t feel offended, but without seeing how can you express?”

“This you can understand only when you see us acting. You are welcome to visit our group. Experience yourself, how we are taught to act.”

“That’s true. It will be a priceless experience for me. But please tell…”

“I told you, come and experience it yourself. If I tell you everything now, I am sure that you will never make the effort. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.”


“No. You have asked me enough questions, now it’s my turn.”

“Ok. But don’t ask any tough ones, please. I am not that good.”

“Come on, you are not in a hot seat after all.” She laughed. “Which station are we heading?”

The train was just two stations away from DumDum. For the first time, I didn’t want the train to reach DumDum. I wanted to talk more with her. Before I could answer her question, suddenly there was an announcement that the train would not proceed any further because of the power cut. By then we had reached Shyambazaar. The passengers got irritated and started dispersing. There was no sign of impatience on her face. She was calm. I felt as if she was trying to sense how people get annoyed even at small unpleasant incidents. Many passengers left, however, few were in the train waiting for the train to start. She said, “Are you not leaving?”

“No. I would like to wait. But I think we can get down and have a walk on the platform till the train starts again.”

“That’s a great idea. But why are you not going home by bus? It’s not so difficult for me, I can manage.”

“I prefer to stay because by train I will reach DumDum in ten minutes, whereas it takes a minimum twenty to thirty minutes to reach by bus. Moreover, I am enjoying your company.”

“Oh! I am pleased to hear about it. So, are you studying in school or college?”

“I go to university.”

“Oh, then you must be a big girl. Please tell me, how does a university look like? Is it like school? I have never been to university.”

“No. It’s not like school. Rather the university is much bigger than school.”

“Oh!” she said; “Tell me, how your childhood days were?”

“Nothing exclusive… very simple and ordinary, like everybody else. I do not want to hurt you. Though you can’t see, you had the right to decide your life. But I never had. Everything has been decided by my parents. I don’t even know whether I love to do what I am doing.”

“Don’t be upset.”

“I am not upset, but till now I have done nothing exciting in my life. My life is very boring.”

“You must have many friends.”

“Yes. We go out together… have lots of fun.”

“Do you want to become an actor?”

“I don’t know. I love watching movies, but never thought of appearing on the silver screen.”     

Some time had passed and again there was an announcement that the train was about to start. We boarded the train after the announcement was made. Very few passengers were left and the train was almost empty. I was very eager to know, how she was selected for the audition of Aparna Sen’s forthcoming movie. So, I finally said, “I have one last question…”

She smiled and said, “Ok… But only one question.”

“Yes, sure. How did you get the opportunity of giving audition before Aparna Sen?”

She again smiled and then said, “I thought you would be asking me this question.”


“That’s a long story. In short, one day our group was performing in a theatre, and our director had invited a few renowned directors and actors of Tollywood to see our performance. Aparna Sen was also invited. She liked my acting. After the show was over, she even met me and applauded me for my performance. Later I came to know that she had invited our director to her house, where she talked with him about me and also assured him that she would like to take me as an actor in her next film.”

“You must be very happy when you came to know about it.”

“Of course, it was a lifetime opportunity for me. When I came to know about it from our director, I was speechless. I was unable to find words to express my feelings. It opened before me a new door in the world of acting, and if I am selected, I would venture into a new arena in the field of acting.”


Before I could say anything more, the train reached DumDum. Our journey was over. We had to get down from the train.

“Should I get you an auto?”

“It’s ok. My friend is waiting. I will go along with him.”

“Nantu?” I made a guess.

“Yes.” She blushed. “It was good meeting you. Hope we will meet again.”

“Talking with you has been a great experience for me. I am inspired.”

“It’s my pleasure. And always remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

“Sure, I will never forget that. Hey, don’t forget me, when you will become the star.”

“How can I? I will always remember you.”

“Now I think Nantu must be getting angry on me for making him wait for you.”

“Don’t act naughty.” She smiled. “I have to take your leave. Bye.”


After bidding adieu to her, I turned around and started walking. Suddenly I realized that I forgot to ask her name. I went back looking for her but was unable to find it. Probably, she vanished in the crowd. But her words left me thinking. For the first time, I understood that I must do something, which will give meaning to my life. I was just following what my parents decided for me, and never thought about what my heart desires. I was no longer irritated nor even tired and started walking with a vibrant mind. Einstein was right. Everything is relative be it light or darkness. We have to find our way. Listen to your heart, the world will be yours.

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