Archive | August, 2011


31 Aug

by Mani G. Iyer

Most nights, after dinner, he meditated
dinner for him
a measly one but always
the same quantity, the same time
he believed in the maxim
eat to live and not live to eat
when we would gorge on mother’s delicacies
he would proclaim from his perch of the armchair
we were worse than pigs
another thing he could not tolerate was
talking while eating
he had his own theory of digestion to back his principle
which is still unclear to me
so, family dinners, solemn occasions.
Some nights he would fast
based on the moon’s facades
which he believed was not prescribed by
the ancient sages for any religious reasons
but a discipline for cleansing one’s stomach
wherein I detect a slight leaning toward Gandhi
which he never admitted, attributing it
to be his own theory and
the lunar positions merely served as a timetable
on those occasions too
his perch remained comfortable
When he meditated
he would sit up in his iron-framed bed
prodding and caressing his prayer beads
between his index finger and thumb
his lips quivering a repetitive phrase
he has a story about the beads
they were given him by a sadhu
who had just visited the holy city of Benares
and they were genuine rudraksh
whatever the story was,
the beads really looked worn with
time, travel and history
He meditated to drive
the rumbling forces out of his system
– he suffered from acute flatulence
this was the scene
him in his Shiva like pose
minus the coiled snake and
the ever faithful, placid bull
mother, me and brother sleeping
on the floor in linear fashion and
there would be a long roar during
the night’s eerie phase followed by
an occasional sputter at which
brother and me would wake and
snicker under our covers
we likened this noise to the startup of
an ailing Royal Enfield and
on days that he fasted, the noise was deafening
he must have been smiling at his victory.
Some nights his meditative powers would fail to
drive the rebellious forces and
he had a solution for that too
he would lie down on his bed and grumble and curse and
eventually rouse poor mother out of her sleep
she would then massage his stomach
wiry and sunken like a river bed in
the aftermath of a drought and
with her gentle fingers, conquer those evil forces and
lull him to sleep.

Mani G. Iyer was born and raised in Bombay, India and has lived in the United States since 1985.  He is deaf-blind due to Usher Syndrome.  He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision.


Quotation of the Week

29 Aug

Ultimately, blind faith is the only kind.
[Mason Cooley (b. 1927), U.S. aphorist. City Aphorisms, Seventh Selection, New York (1990).]  (Taken from )

Art by Stella M. De Genova

28 Aug
Friends, Readers & Associates, you know of me through this blog.  In the last year and a half, I had to stop working due to my progressive vision loss.  In this time, it gave me the opportunity to dedicate my efforts to what is an important part of who I am – my art. I invite you to view my website –  I do apologze for the lack of accessibility on the site but it is a work in progress!

Creative Person of the Week

26 Aug

John Bramblitt (born 1971) is a blind painter of American origin. He began painting after losing his sight in 2001 after a series of severe seizures. His art has been displayed in over 20 nations and he has been the subject of numerous media stories including a documentary that won several short film awards and a video that was voted Most Inspirational Video of 2008 for YouTube. He was awarded US Presidential awards for volunteerism in 2005, 2006, and 2007 for his creation of a series of free art workshops designed to bring art to people and neighborhoods that lacked access to art instruction.  (Taken from


24 Aug

by Andrea Kelton

I was waiting for the Belmont bus the other day when I noticed platform shoes displayed in an upscale boutique window. “I guess it’s true,” I thought.  “Fashion repeats itself.”  I’d worn platforms thirty years ago.  And here they were-fashionable once more.

I adored platform shoes when they were all the rage during the 1970’s.  I’d never worn high heels.  High heels pinched my feet.  And walking in them felt like walking a tightrope. I was sure to fall and break my body. No safety net awaited me if I toppled from the heights.

But platforms were different.  I wore them easily.  The sole might be four inches tall, but my foot was level from toe to heel.  I’d buy a new pair at least once a month.  Canvas sandals with cork soles, black patent leather or suede rust colored “high heel” styled platforms, woven tops, mesh tops, open toe, braided, buckled…all meant to compliment my many looks.  A padded-shoulder “Bette Midler” style polka dot dress wasn’t complete without black and white platforms.  Nor were the mini skirts or wide bell-bottom jeans I lived in back then.

One day in 1972, the flu kept me from teaching my first grade class. The substitute instructed the children to “draw a picture of your teacher.”  A stack of 30+ manila sheets welcomed me back when I returned.  On each crayon masterpiece stood a smiling young woman with long blond hair, wearing oversized glasses and enormous Elton John platforms.  Those six year olds had captured my essence-all hair and shoes.

I could walk, run or dance in those shoes.  But I couldn’t feel the ground under my feet.  Which, a few years later, became vitally important.

As my vision slowly deteriorated, I needed to feel the ground below me.  I had to give up fashion for safety.  I thought that I was just buying flats.  I wasn’t prepared for the emotional onslaught that followed.

My appearance intricately wove the fabric of my identity.  If I wasn’t a super hip fashion devotee, who was I? 

The term “vision loss” is deceptive.  Sure, there’s the actual physical change.  But there are also those sneaky little losses and “deaths” that paralyze your attempts to adjust and adapt.  Turning a seemingly ordinary situation into emotional devastation.

Like giving up platform shoes.

 Andrea Kelton lives in Chicago.  She was diagnosed with uveitis in 1974 at the age of 25.  Andrea quit teaching in 1984 when she was designated legally blind.  She went on to become a potter, opening her own art school for children.  She currently teaches adults to read at Literacy Chicago

Quotation of the Week

22 Aug

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

Mark Twain quotes (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 18351910  (Quote taken from

Creative Person of the Week

19 Aug

Helen Keller – (1880 – 1968) – Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, activist and lecturer. She was the first deaf/blind person to graduate from college. She was not born blind and deaf; it was not until nineteen months of age that she came down with an illness described by doctors as “an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain”, which could have possibly been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind. Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author. She is remembered as an advocate for people with disabilities amid numerous other causes.

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