JUAN M. FLAVIER: THE PARABLE OF THE DEAF AND THE BLIND

MANILA, OCTOBER 1, 2003 (BULLETIN) Juan M. Flavier - THE barrio lad was born completely blind and totally deaf. For as long as he could remember. He lived in a world of darkness and silence.

Almost like an over-compensation, he evolved a supersensitive sense of touch. He could tell, as if he had a radar antennae, the presence of persons or things and exactly where they stood.

By sheer memory, he had a mental view of their hut. He could walk around effortlessly without bumping into anything. He knew there were two narra chairs facing each other with a small table in between. On the table was a knitted tablecloth on which rested a glass vase with plastic flowers. To the side was a window throughout which the cool barrio breeze streamed.

On one wall he knew there were shelves which displayed various statuettes and little ceramic pieces. In the corner was a cabinet (tokador) with a glass door. Past the wall was their bedroom.

On one side was the bamboo stairs with five rungs leading to the dining area and kitchen.

Many times, he would wonder about the colored appearance of the world around him. He imagined what the actual sounds were of the vibrations he felt made by the people and things inside and outside the hut.

One day, the barrio lad knelt and prayed. “My Creator, I do not mean to complain. But I am just so curious about the sights and sounds which I am not privileged to experience. I pray for You to please let me see and hear even just for one day.”

In a flash, the young man was stunned by the flood of glaring light and sharp sounds. He marveled at the play of colors outside the window — the lush trees and the bright blue sky. The voices of people, the barking of dogs, the roar of tricycles... all pierced his eardrums like never before. Everything seemed exciting and pleasurable.

But then he began to see and hear too much. He was particularly bothered by the measure of unkind words. Of arguments filled with hate and enmity. Parents berating their wailing children. Women crying in despair. Young men cursing.

He was unsettled by the poverty around the barrio. Many huts were dilapidated and unkempt. By the wayside were heaps of garbage. He was witness for the first time to the cruelty that men do to fellow men.

He knelt down once more and prayed, “My Creator, thank you for your positive reply to my petition. But now please give me back my piece of mind in my dark and quiet life. In a world such as this, I prefer to be deaf and blind.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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