Winning story of “A Life-Changing Experience” Story-writing Competition Organized by hiba
“Oh no! Another pimple on my face!” I exclaimed.
During my teenage years, I had something to whine about every day: my short height, my plump physique, why I was not as fair as snow or why Allah (swt) had given pretty eyes to my best friend instead of me. And oh yes, if I spotted a fresh pimple on my face in the morning, my mother wouldn’t hear the end of it. She would often tell me that I was very beautiful the way Allah (swt) had created me. However, for me, being as beautiful as all the ‘picture-perfect models’ was terribly important.
“Beauty lies in the inner self. Make your soul beautiful and people will love you for it,” my mom would often say. “See how intelligent Allah (swt) has made you. Just look at your academic results! You should be one grateful girl, sweetheart,” my dad would say in order to lift my spirits.
But nothing worked for me. The inferiority complex had totally overtaken me, and I had become a miserable teen, who envied every beautiful girl around. Materialism and glamour had made me a thankless creature.
Sometimes, we experience events that have a huge influence on our lives. No matter how long we live, some particular incident becomes deeply engraved into our memory, leaving a lasting impact. The same happened to me, when Allah (swt) decided to help me out one day.
In 2004, I decided to attend a training workshop by an NGO named LIOCS (Leading Institute of Competitive Skills), which was arranged by a young team led by two visually impaired youngsters. They believed in the philosophy: “If we can’t see the world, then let us do something, so that the world can see us.”
During one of the lunch breaks at the workshop, the most unforgettable activity took place. In the conference room, all the participants were blindfolded and asked to find their way to the kitchen, where lunch was served for them.
“It will be a lot of fun,” I thought, as I happily put on my blindfold. After all, the kitchen was just two minutes away. But, to my profound surprise, that two-minute walk from the conference room to the kitchen turned out to be the longest walk of my life.
It was strange, how a mere blindfold had deprived me of my entire confidence. With a feeling of helplessness sweeping all over me, I slowly set off for this ordeal that seemed to go on forever. Mumbling ‘sorry’ and ‘excuse me’ every four to five steps, as I stumbled and banged into other participants or the door or a pillar, was very embarrassing for me and many others.
The sound of the kitchen door being banged with a saucepan by one of the trainers was the only ray of light in the pitch black darkness that surrounded me.
The entrance to the kitchen came as a big relief, but the nightmare wasn’t over yet. The worst was yet to come. We had been briefed about the location of lunch boxes, salad, paper cups and drinks. However, I lost my orientation upon entering the kitchen and couldn’t make out, where the things were. When after multiple attempts, I finally got hold of the lunch box, I squatted onto the floor and started to eat the rice.
Suddenly, I heard the trainer say, “Hey, you, why are you sitting in the doorway? Do you want someone to trip over you?”
Red-faced, I stood up apologetically. On the other side of the kitchen, the second trainer was ridiculing another participant: “Tsk, tsk, it seems you cannot see, you poor boy!”
Without being able to see the food, my appetite was already half gone. Above all, the trainers were amplifying our frustration with such shameful remarks as: “Can’t you manage such a little thing?” and “Maybe Allah (swt) has taken away your sight for the sins that you have done!” and other mean remarks. (This was all part of the programme.)
That was the turning point in my life; it was the moment that changed my perception about life. I realized for the first time, what a marvellous gift is sight, which I had always taken for granted. When we were finally allowed to take off the blindfolds, the relief I felt was beyond words.
In an instant, the darkness vanished and the world became so colourful, so bright, so… worth living!
That day, as I drove back home, I was a transformed person. I was a totally new Iram, who could empathize and be thankful for Allah’s (swt) blessings. On my way, as the traffic signal turned red, I saw a crippled beggar, who made me wonder: “Iram, what is there to feel sad about, if you can’t afford the latest fashion heels? At least you have a perfect pair of feet for walking and running and a dozen pairs of other sandals.”
I had learnt my lesson. So what if I am not a beauty queen? At least Allah (swt) is generous enough to bless me with all five senses. Every organ of my body is functioning perfectly. So what if I don’t have beautifully coloured eyes? I still can see what an amazing and colourful place this world is.
So what if a pimple appears on my face once in a while? Thanks to Allah (swt), I look prettier than countless others with skin diseases. Visit a hospital some day, and you will come across hundreds envying you, ready to exchange places with you. Walk a mile in the shoes of those who sleep on roads, and you will know how lucky you are.
I have finally begun to appreciate Allah’s (swt) countless blessings.
It’s all about seeing the glass half full.
Box Feature: Did you know?
• 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision.
• 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss.
• Over a billion people, about 15% of the world’s population, have some form of disability.
(Source: World Health Organization)