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My Son will not be a Beggar – Ved Mehta

Summary

Ved Mehta became blind when he was three and a half years old. It was in 1937. His mother called pandits and hakims to offer prayers and apply special medicines in his eyes. His father didn’t support his wife, so, he sent him to Dadar School for the Blind in Bombay. Ved Mehta is a writer of a number books and is an editor as well.

Bit/Bits
  • When Ved Mehta was three and a half years, he lost his sight due to meningitis.
  • It was a shock for the whole family.
  • When relatives and neighbors came in with too much sympathy, his father got a transfer from Lahore to Karnal.
  • It took some long time for the family to feel familiar with the new surroundings and with his blindness.
  • In the new house, Ved’s mother called pandits (priests) to offer prayers.
  • She also went to hakims who were specialized in medicines.
  • She did it without her husband’s consent because he was a doctor.
  • One day, his father knew what his wife was doing. This made him very angry.
  • He contacted Dr. RM Halder, the Principal of Dadar School for the Blind in Bombay (Mumbai).
  • Dr. Halder showed deep interest in Ved’s case and welcomed him to his care.
Questions
  1. What happened to Ved when he was three and a half?
    When Ved was three and a half, he went blind due to a prolonged attack of meningitis. He then started living in a world of four senses, that is, a world in which colours and faces and light and darkness are unknown.
  2. Ved Mehta’s mother and father had different plans for his future. How did the two differ in their plans?
    Ved Mehta’s mother could not believe that her son was blind. She called hakims and pandits for improving his sight but her husband, who was a doctor, did not believe in the pandits and in hakims.
  3. How does Ved compare the depravities of a blind person with those of the blessings of a sighted person?
    Ved Mehta, recounting his initial days of blindness, says that a blind person is at a gain because he or she should not worry about many things that the sighted people usually worry and make fuss about. Although his age and the sickness had deprived him of the treasured memories of sight, he saw that many things seen and spoken in the lives of sighted people are mere, meaningless words.
Under Construction
  1. I started living in a universe where it was not the flood of sunshine streaming through the nursery window or the colours of the rainbow, a sunset or a full moon that mattered but the feel of the sun against the skin, the slow drizzling sound of the spattering rain, the feel of the air just before the coming of the quiet night, the smell of the grass on a warm morning. It was a universe where at first – but only at first –I made my way fumbling and faltering.
  2. What did the writer miss when he lost his sight. Tick the right answer.
    1. The love of his family
    2. The colours of the birds and butterflies
    3. Darkness
    4. Being able to recognize people
    5. Not eating his favourite food.
  3. The writer says, ‘It was a universe where at first – but only at first- I made my way fumbling and faltering.’ What does he mean when he says, ‘but only at first’? Tick the right answer.
    1. He regained his sight.
    2. He learnt to manage his daily life though he was blind.
    3. Someone else did all his work for him.
  4. How did Ved’s family react to his blindness? Were they very unhappy, or did they think he would recover? What did they do about his problem? It was good that I lost my sight when I did, because having no memories of seeing, there was nothing to look back to, nothing to miss. I went blind in November 1937. At that time we were living in Gujarat, in the province of Punjab in northern India. After my sickness, we moved to Lahore, a few miles away, but the number of relatives who came to sympathize made my father ask for another transfer, this time to Karnal, where we had neither friends nor relatives. There we got a cottage on the canal bank, built in very peaceful and quiet surroundings. As might be expected, in the beginning it was tough for all of us, for mother and my father, for my three sisters and my brother, and for me too. The illness had left me weak. The servants avoided me as though I were an evil eye personified.
  5. My sisters treated me with care, as though I were a fragile doll, and mother wept. My father, who was a doctor in the public health service, was grateful that I had got prompt and good medical treatment, for delay would have affected my mind or endangered my life. But he, like the rest, had no hope.
  6. A stage of complete inaction therefore followed my blindness. In part, this was due to the immediate shock of the illness, but more important still, the difficult situation was caused by ignorance of the potentialities of a blind child, since the only blind persons my parents saw were beggars. But now, by fate or by the will of god, blindness had struck not only a child of the well to do, but that of an excellently trained doctor, who found his training in this instance useless. Still, his wide medical experience had prepared him for an acceptance of this tragedy, and he understood that any course of action must begin with the realization that I would be blind for the rest of my life.

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I Must Know the Truth

Coromandel Fishers – Sarojini Naidu