Sujatha's "Paarvai" – A blind's eye view !!

By Latha

“Sir, Naan oru piravi kurudan, paarvai endraal ennavenre theriyadhu, neengal oru ezhuthaalar dhaane? Oru kelvikku badhil solkireergala. Varnam endraal enna? Enakku varniyungal, varnam enbadhu enna? ”

Paarvai, a short story by Sujatha, written sometime in 1972, gives us a ‘glimpse’ of the blind’s world and their ‘view points’. A train journey, one (two?!) blind man. One groping in the dark and the other in brightness. Both trying to explain the seamless thoughts of their mind to the other. Sujatha, as usual, stands a class apart in his narration of this story, a sweet tinge of bitterness in the blind man’s character and a non-grudging envy of a normal man towards the blind man. The little nuances and razor sharp functioning of the other sensory organs, except the eyes of the blind man is expressed with a touch of nonchalance, yet strikingly visible to the mind’s eye.

When the blind man says “Ungalai ‘sandhithadhil’ mikka maghizchi”, the writer observes “sandhithadhil… Kann therindha ulagathin vaarthai”. The story leaves the reader with a feeling of incompleteness, a helplessness that a six-sense person feels when he is unable to explain something to a person who lacks one sense. Maybe Ashok Banker’s Mahabharatha has answers. Ashok’s odyssey of Mahabharatha starts with “As the blind king watched… “. Ironical, isn’t it?

12 thoughts on “Sujatha's "Paarvai" – A blind's eye view !!

  1. Nice write up…Regarding

    “six-sense person feels when he is unable to explain something to a person who lacks one sense.”

    *on a similar note*
    It is portrayed beautifully in one of Nazar’s movie…i dont know the name..Revathi who is visually challanged since birth will ask Nazar what color is….
    Nazar tries to explain her what color is to revathi and I think the whole scene is very well handled…
    Same helplessness of a person to explain things to a person for whom one of the senses is challanged.

  2. Beautifully written. Very good choice of words portraying the irony.. with sort of, oxymoronic verses all along – “sweet tinge of bitterness”, “non-grudging envy”.

    “As the blind king watched… ” Wow.. can’t wait to get my hands on that book.

    Reminds of Helen Keller’s words when she asked someone “What all did u see in your morning walk?”. The person replies “Nothing”. Helen says “Interesting. (describes her lawn and..) If I could ‘see’ so much, wonder how she misses all these beauty.”

  3. Guru,
    this is in reply to your previous “early blogging days post”. I was not “thitting” you. I was just joking around. This type of misunderstanding has occured between us, far too many times now.

    I’m sorry if I offended you or hurt you, I didn’t mean it that way- it was just intended as a comic relief. If you haven’t noticed the very fact that I come to your blog is a sign that I like reading your stuff..

    I will try to write differently from now on, sorry about it.

  4. Very good write up!I cant wait to get hold of the book.Its difficult to “visualize” the impact the story will have without its brilliant narration.

    It makes us wonder if the worst thing is not to lack “Paarvai” but not to have “Paarvai”.(vision).

  5. oh yeah Phoenix “Thendral vandhu theendum bodhu enna vannamo ! manasile !”. that song has some “arey wah!” linez.

    latha/lazy , sujatha himself wrote up somewhere (shud be vikatan) the same question. and he wrote, ” i asked this to a blind man. therinju enna sir panna porom ! it doesnt make sense (!) to us.”

    actually, “see” in the vision-enabled word is a two phase process. we think as we see. we interpret what the lens shows us. the blind could only not view the world. but he could sense it happening. he could interpret.

    the blind have a completely different picture of you and me. actually, every blind person, has a unique pictuer of you and me.

    just as it is hard for the blind people to find out how we see the world.. it is equally unimaginable for us to find out how they have thought of this world. what pictures come to their mind in every sense. May be its a wonderful experience to them..

    i think the blind can see better than us. πŸ™‚

    And yes, In mahabaratha, the blind king had a wise eye. “Vithuran” was his name, and the most underplayed yet highly logical character in the story. ever heard if him !

  6. Latha being a good Rasikai of Sujatha has put the essence of this story succinctly. While the normal world associates many terms with the aspect of sight “let us see”, “paarkalaam”, “theriyaradhaa” etc., it is there in our mythology that this “kann” which we are blessed with at birth is really “oona kann” and what we need to open up our understanding and consciousness is the “gnana kann” which is somewhat alluded to in the Mahabharata also.

    It is of course true that when all our sense organs are functioning correctly and we come across someone who has the misfortune of not having one or more, we think to ourselves how is it that this person gets and processes sensory information. More so, if it is the eye since it is said that more than 80% of our sensory input comes thru the eyes.

    Also when we think of someone we tend to think of their face and the one organ that is distinguished in the face is the eye. Eyes speak by themselves and if that organ itself is incapable of its function, then it indeed is unfortunate.

    But let us not forget that people can have eyes and still be “blind” to a lot of things. That is a far more pitiable state than just the physical shortcoming.

    Hats off to Latha for the description which is a teaser to the reader to get their hands at that story of Sujatha (considering that it appeared quite a while back). If it is available online, can someone post a link to it? Thanks.

  7. Yep…a very nice choice of words to… a ‘glimpse’ into a blind person’s world and their ‘view points’.

    Have felt like being in the shoes of a person blind since birth – especially to experience something new without any past impressions and totally ignorant of the concepts of shape, size and color. Fascinating.

    Come to think of it, it was only yesterday that somebody was raving about this particular work by Sujatha and today I get to read the review here of the same work. By the way, this certain somebody – I have not yet “seen” personally – not in my 200 hours of wakeful existence (dreams are always fantasies) but here I am – hoping that that same somebody will someday be the ‘light of my life’. But as they say sometimes ‘Love is blind’, wot?

    Seeing ain’t always believing!!!

  8. @Aravind: Ashok Banker’s Mahabharatha is coming out shortly.. the book to be titled “As the blind king watched” is expected to be out in 2006..

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