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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blind Love

National Association for the Blind (NAB) is the primary Non Government Service Organization for the blind in India. Founded in Mumbai in 1952 with the motto “Tamso Ma Jyotigamaya” (From darkness lead unto light) that emerged as its guiding principle, the NAB, through its 18 State Branches in different parts of the country, its 7 institutions and over a dozen activities, provides services such as support for integrated education, braille production, talking book library, home for aged blind, special program for multiple disabled persons, prevention of blindness, vocational training, technology development & training, industrial employment, and orientation & mobility training all over India.

My wife and I devoted much of our spare time to volunteer service to the blind at the NAB in New Delhi. I published a souvenir to raise funds for building hostel of the school for the blind, through advertisements from big business houses, while my wife helped by organizing runs in Delhi schools in aid of the blind. I also assisted the voluntary organization in its expansion to the rural areas of Delhi by starting training programs in varied vocations right in the villages where the blind lived. On weekends and holidays my wife would accompany me to oversee the training arrangements and make suggestions based on her experience in running such programs in schools. In one of our visits to a training camp in a village, we spotted a blind boy, singing devotional songs in the compound of the village temple.

“What a melodious voice this young man has. If groomed by a professional musician, he can be a great singer,” my wife said while walking towards him.
“You sing beautifully. Where did you learn to sing?” She asked Bhola, the blind young man.
“Just by listening to professional singers who performed at the temple during festivals. I spend whole day singing at the temple, and this gives me a good practice. Sometimes they allow me to sing with them on the stage too,” he said with some pride.

Seeing the potential in his singing, my wife suggested that she could arrange to train him under her school music teacher, who was also a radio artist and might help him in his audition for singing on the radio.
“It is a terrific idea. I can arrange his stay in the blind school hostel where he can take lessons from your music teacher.” I greeted her suggestion with great enthusiasm.

Bhola's parents were too poor to look after their blind son and had practically abandoned him, to live at the mercy of others, at the temple. They were only too happy to see their son taken to the city to live in the hostel for the blind, where he would get food and all other amenities free of cost. The music teacher, whom my wife had given his first break when he had just come from a small town looking for a job, was very happy to have Bhola as his pupil. On the suggestion of the blind school administrator, the winner of the “Best Volunteer of the Year” national award, the music teacher also agreed to train a blind student of the school, who too was a good singer. They both learnt fast and within a short period passed the audition test of the national radio and TV. After their very first opportunity to perform together on the TV, they received offer from a renowned music studio, to make an album of their devotional duos. Their first album was immensely liked by lovers of devotional songs, and then onwards, there was no looking back. They both became a popular singing pair and star attraction at religious gatherings and 'Jagratas”.

Thanks to my wife's match making skills, and blind school administrator's blessings, Bhola and Veena, his blind singing partner, apart from their successful singing career, were soon leading a happy married life. They had truly experienced Blind Love, the basic and the most beautiful form of love.


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