Helen Keller was born on 27 June, 1880. She was born beautiful and playful. However, human life is unpredictable. Helen was only a year and a half old when she caught such a strange fever that she lost the ability to see, hear and speak forever. Now this was an unexpected blow of life, but the human spirit is all about defeating such blows and emerging unscathed by them. It is not the mark of a true human being to become disheartened or dejected by the adversities of life or get scared of them and start seeking some kind of refuge.
Nevertheless, despite having lost her sensory organs, Helen started living a normal life. She got engrossed in viewing and understanding the world with the help of her mother. She began to learn the sign language. And in this manner, gradually she started communicating with others using her own understanding. For example, moving her head sideways meant ‘no’ and nodding it up and down meant ‘yes’ etc. And by the time she was four years old, she even started helping out with household chores. She was becoming particularly fond of folding clothes. What was most surprising was that she would easily identify her own garments from the pile of clothes.
In the meantime, her cook’s daughter Martha and their pet dog had become her close friends. In their company, she had started roaming in the gardens and cowsheds. For Helen, this experience was much more blissful than thousands of imaginary experiences of heaven. In Martha’s company, she had started learning new signals of communication by herself. For example, she would pretend to shiver if she wanted to have an ice-cream.
Amidst such activities, Helen became seven years old. Observing her talent, Helen’s mother desired to educate her. When did Helen ever object to that? She certainly wanted progress in life. And so, a teacher named Anne, who was only 14 years old, then began home schooling Helen. Anne’s first priority was to teach Helen to identify objects by their names. And for this purpose, she would keep an object in Helen’s one hand and would write the name of the object on her other hand; sometimes, a doll and something else at other times. But how much would a girl who could not hear, read and speak understand? Nevertheless, she was Helen Keller! One day when she was playing with falling water, Anne immediately took her hands and started writing water on it with her finger. Helen quickly understood that this cold thing falling on her hands is water.
That was it! Helen’s further education began with her moving her fingers on embossed words on cardboard. And Helen was so talented and dedicated that she learnt thousands of words in no time. Soon, Helen even started reading books with the help of embossed words on cardboard. Eventually, she enrolled in the university and even graduated. The whole world saluted her for this talent. Overnight, she became the most talked-about young woman in the world! However, Helen still had a long way to go. So, she not only learnt typing but also wrote twelve books using that skill. But she was not content even with that. She wanted to do something for all those who had lost their sensory organs. And for this purpose, with great difficulty she even learnt to express words by moving her lips. …Now there was no stopping her. At the age of 66, the hard-working Helen undertook a journey of 35 countries in the next 11 years. Whichever country she travelled to, not only had its heads of state, but also its leading personalities from other fields coming to honour her. And amidst all such activities, Helen said her final goodbye to the world at the age of 88.
Helen may have said her goodbyes to the world, but before that she had taught the world what she had to. She had proved what all human beings could achieve on the strength of their spirit. Unforeseen troubles and obstacles always keep arising in life and this is what life is all about. …But to give in to these difficulties does not befit human beings. Neither does it befit them to seek refuge in temples-mosques-churches. The only thing that befits humans is to overcome adversities with the strength of their spirit and hard work.
But we hold our head in our hands at the most trivial of troubles. Our life becomes meaningless just because of small losses, ordinary illness or by petty arguments with our loved ones. We turn to temples-mosques for help. We start grovelling before the maulvis-priests. From random threads to amulets, we mindlessly wear everything that we are asked to wear by anyone. However, Helen did not do any such thing. Neither did she get distressed or disheartened, and nor did she complain to God about anything. Neither did she curse her destiny nor did she seek any solace from priests. She simply kept moving ahead in life with the help of the imperishable spirit that God has given humans.
Today on the occasion of her birthday, I accept the great Helen Keller as a goddess of spirit. And I resolve that henceforth whenever trouble arises in life, I will compare it to those of Helen’s. No matter what struggles have to be faced, no matter what kind of losses I incur, it will surely not be as big as Helen’s loss of her three senses. I will immediately consider it as an insignificant problem and overcome it with the power of my spirit. And you…? May be, even you would do the same. This is what should be done. Otherwise the relentless hard work of the goddess of spirit and this inspiring story of hers will be in vain. And I hope that today on the occasion of her birthday you would not let this happen.
– Deep Trivedi