I received this essay through a friend of this family:
On 21st January, 1991, my parents were overjoyed on the arrival of their first baby, my elder brother. But the happiness was short-lived as within a few hours of delivery my mother noticed that his eyes were prominently protruding and were dull grey in colour. The doctor gave the terrible news that my brother was suffering from Congenital Glaucoma. This disease is incurable and with each passing day he would lose his sight if the eye pressure was not under control. My mother was totally shattered but she had to accept Naqi’s problem as a challenge. My mother had a dream that Naqi should go to normal school and never pity himself nor be pitied by others. So from that day she took up this challenge to accomplish her dream.
In Pakistan there were very few facilities for visually impaired children and I saw mother struggle since the beginning even though in the early years I was too young to understand the circumstances. My mother’s family is in India which meant that she had no support and it seemed to be very difficult to cope with Naqi’s problem. My mother went to all good schools but they refused to admit Naqi as he had a great difficulty in facing light or recognizing colors. She was determined and fortunately went to one of the best schools in Pakistan, Springfield where they offered her a job plus admitted Naqi on a trial basis.
I remember as a child how happy Naqi and my mother were when he passed Nursery and K.G. with an excellent result and came to First standard. Naqi had great difficulty in reading the blackboard and his eyes watered a lot because of which he put his head down in class and was unable to read books of regular font. Then my mother got his books enlarged which made him feel better. Things were going smoothly till Naqi came to the Second standard.
This was the turning point in our life as Naqi lost his eyesight completely. I was very young and wondered why Naqi behaved so differently, why he held my parents’ hand while going out or why he did not read books like others. I often saw my mother cry and pray to God for help. I felt terrible and helpless.
One day she was summoned to the Principal’s office and was told to put him in a the school for blind. Poor mother was devastated. The same year we went to India and there mom read an article of a blind scientist, T.V Roman, and contacted him. He gave my mother immense hope and asked her to try and convince the principal to let Naqi continue if he could cope using special devices. She went to National Association for the Blind (NAB) Mumbai; where Naqi’s IQ was tested and found to be high. My mother came back with new spirit.
The principal agreed to let Naqi continue and every passing day brought new hope. When my brother was in the third standard I read out lessons and stories to him and made him feel different things like stuffed toys etc. I described pictures to him from his text books and narrated my class tales to him because I felt he enjoyed that. My mother taught him Mathematics as he does mental Mathematics. She also made him do his homework and prepare for tests. After completing my homework I used to sit down and observe Naqi with curiosity. When Naqi came to the 7th standard studies became tougher. We went to India every summer holidays and visited NAB, where my mother met different people and devised new ways for Naqi to cope in school. They recorded his text books, gave German papers on which she drew diagrams for Naqi and he felt them since they were embossed.
When Naqi came to ninth standard, it was an important year as that was the beginning of his O’ Levels. My mother gave all her time to his studies. At times I felt angry and frustrated because she was not able to spend much time with me, often when I told her stories about school she asked me to come later. I cried as my father too was a working man and came late. But then I realized my mother was worried about Naqi and that she had to devote her time to him. Every time I saw her and Naqi praying to God whenever there was any problem and I saw how their prayers were answered, my faith was shaken up at times but I have never seen people so firm, strong and determined as the two of them.
My brother has a passion for Science and was determined to take it up in tenth standard. Everyone was a bit hesitant thinking about how he would manage to deal with so many diagrams and practicals. But Naqi was firm in his decision and worked so hard that he got the highest marks in Science in ninth and took up pure Science in tenth. My mother got a computer installed in his class with the screen reading software, JAWS. Naqi did his tests on it and the teachers or his classmates read out the material written on the board. Everyday I came home by a public bus as my mother took Naqi directly for his tuitions and they came home by eight at night. Those years were a real test for us, I used to be alone at home all day waiting for them to arrive, I also cried and prayed to God to give them strength and reward their hard work. I felt very helpless and wished that I could do something for them.
Naqi’s O’ Level exams were over and he got an overwhelming result, 5 A’s and 4 high B’s. He was the first blind child to appear for Cambridge Exams. He got 96% in Chemistry. Now he has graduated from Springfield and got admission in the best college of Pakistan, Karachi Grammar School, from where he is doing his A’ Levels with Science subjects. The dream of my mother is not completely achieved although one milestone has been crossed but the struggle still continues. I know my mother’s dream will materialize someday.
I share a very special bond with Naqi, I am just one and a half year younger than him but we share all our secrets with each other. When he has a splitting pain in his eyes I cry a lot but I know God is just, he will reward him in a way he might never have dreamt of. He teases me like a typical brother, we fight but reconcile soon. We watch movies, listen to music, he plays the piano and I am his accompanist. He helps me in my studies especially Math. When a Math problem has a figure which he can’t understand, I get frustrated at times but then I draw the figures on his German papers and the problem is solved by him. When we go for a movie or sightseeing etc tears roll down my cheeks when I think about Naqi but when I see him enjoying with my cousins all my sorrows vanish. When the electricity goes, I feel terrible thinking about how Naqi must be feeling living in darkness. But there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I suffer from the same problem as my brother due to Glaucoma but I have a little sight left. I never felt that Naqi has a problem because he does every thing as a normal child. He does cycling, swimming, skating and has probably the best humour in town. He has wonderful friends. He has delivered speeches in the school’s assembly and takes part in debates. He selects his own clothes by feeling the material and tries out different hairstyles which are appreciated by all. He is a pillar of strength and I am proud and blessed to have a brother like him who is so caring and loving. I seek inspiration from him and idolize him and my mother. It’s because of her that we are what we are today. My mother’s dream has proved that “Faith can move mountains.” Now when I look back through the years I feel how difficult things were but God opened up ways for us. “When the night is the darkest a lone candle can make a difference.”