I like traveling and I always wanted to take a long trip in my boat. When I finally gathered the courage, I packed enough food that will last me for a year and started sailing. I sailed and sailed for 2 months, until one day I noticed an island. I tried to locate this island on my map, but it only showed blue sea. “Have I discovered a new island?”, I thought. I wanted to explore it at once, so I took my boat towards that direction.
The island had beautiful white sand, tall palm trees, blue shores and a variety of sea birds. I anchored my boat and walked a little further cautiously. I could not believe what I saw next. There were people. It looked like a small village with several houses. As I walked closer, I noticed that there were men, women and children. Some taller than the others, some fairer, some slimmer, some older, some stronger. But there was something different in the way they walked. I approached them cautiously. As I walked towards them, they noticed me and started moving towards me. When they came close, I couldn’t help but notice their face. They were not looking at me. They touched me, they sniffed me and they smiled. Then they held my hands and started taking me towards the centre of the village. There was no aggression in their body language so I did not feel threatened. But there was one thing that I had discovered by now. All of them were blind.
They communicated with each other by making strange sounds. I figured that they had a language. They sensed that I must be tired so they offered me water to drink and sweet fruits to eat. They did not seem to be distressed with my arrival. In fact they seemed to be happy. They gathered around me and started singing. As the Sun set into the ocean, it started feeling cold. One of the men put on the fire which radiated heat. We started feeling warm. For several hours, a log drum was beating rhythmically, everyone was singing in tandem and dancing as they would please. Then they ate their share of the sweet fruits and drank water from the village pond. They made me a comfortable bed of grass and leaves, they and started going to sleep.
They seemed to be the happiest people in the world. They didn’t seem flustered about not having sight. They probably didn’t even know about the sense of sight that most human beings in other parts of the world have. Did they ever feel that they were missing a human being’s most precious sensory organ? They lived on probably the most beautiful island in the world, but there was no way for them to know.
Science has made enough progress, I thought. If I can convince them to come in small groups to my city, I can get their eyes operated on, and give them their vision. Finally being able to see the beauty of their home land, I can really make them the happiest people in the world. So I decided to stay on for several weeks, until I could learn their language and convince a few of them to come with me for restoring their vision.
During a few early days, I noticed that they have indeed mastered the art of perfectly living a blind human’s life. They happily went about their business. They built their houses from trees and bark. They planted herbs and climbers and harvested fruits and vegetables. They reproduced and took care of their children. They woke up, when it started feeling warm and they would go to sleep when it got cold.
I started blending in. They started giving me some of their daily chores like gathering fruits from trees, and would be very surprised when I could gather the highest number of fruits, in the shortest amount of time. I spent more time with them and I started to get a hang of their language. As I learned their language I noticed that there were no words for colors, but there were dozens of words for different temperatures, odours and tastes. They even sculpted shapes of men, women and animals on flat rocks, using chisel-like sharp stones with surprising accuracy.
After about two months, I managed communication with them. Because, they had no words to represent vision or sight, I tried explaining to them irrationally. I started talking to them about ‘feeling’ rocks, trees, sand and water, not merely touching or smelling them. I told them that I could do it, and therefore I know exactly how your world is. They thought I was fantasising. They had a word for eyes. I used that and tried to explain how, if we take their eyes out and replace them with new ones, so that they would be able to sense the world the way they have never done it before. They would be able to capture all the beauty that nature has to offer. I explained to them that if they came with me, they would thank me for the rest of their lives, as they would be able to understand what they have been missing for all these generations. They still did not take me very seriously.
I kept at it, using different techniques. I tried motivating them, I tried to instil fear in them and I tried painting a picture of the glorious future. None of it worked. “We have lived like this for generations without a problem. We have never lacked any sensory organ. We only believe what we can touch, hear, smell and taste. How can this outsider come to us and tell us that we lack something. What evidence does he have to prove that he knows something that we don’t? How can he decide that our lives are not complete? Does he have any dangerous hidden motives?” I heard them discussing once. They started ignoring me. It broke my heart.
I had exhausted all the means of telling them what they were missing out on. How can anyone possibly believe in something that they have never experienced? How can anyone possibly explain something, which only he has experienced? I decided to quit. I bid everyone goodbye sailed my ship back home.