(A review of ‘The story of my life’ by Helen keler.)
“Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding-line, and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was. “Light! give me light!” was the wordless cry of my soul
I had long intended to read biography of
Helen Keller. (Have you ever wondered how when we use first names when talking about characters but last name when talking authors?). Helen wrote this biography at age of 22 (two years before getting her graduation) – so most of it is about her childhood memories.
Her communication with outside world was limited to touch and smell which wouldn’t have been enough, if it wasn’t for her teacher.
“I felt approaching footsteps, I stretched out my hand as I supposed to my mother. Some one took it, and I was caught up and held close in the arms of her who had come to reveal all things to me, and, more than all things else, to love me.”
Helen does answer the questions that we can’t ask of politeness. How beautiful a realisation was to her – that the signs her teacher made on her arm stood for objects. How much harder it was to move on to abstract words –things that come naturally to other more fortunate children. How she had problem in separating things from their descriptions, which meant that she was always in a fear of plagiarizing without being aware that the thoughts she was writing weren’t her own.
I knew that she was courageous – but, I didn’t knew she could be so full of life. Dispite her disabilities, she wasn’t deaf and blind to arts. She liked touching and feeling art pieces, sculpters etc.
She even had a gentle sense of humor. “Give a brief account of Huss and his work.” Huss? Who was he and what did he do? The name looks strangely familiar. You ransack your budget of historic facts much as you would hunt for a bit of silk in a rag-bag. You are sure it is somewhere in your mind near the top—you saw it there the other day when you were looking up the beginnings of the Reformation. But where is it now? You fish out all manner of odds and ends of knowledge—revolutions, schisms, massacres, systems of government; but Huss—where is he? You are amazed at all the things you know which are not on the examination paper. In desperation you seize the budget and dump everything out, and there in a corner is your man, serenely brooding on his own private thought, unconscious of the catastrophe which he has brought upon you.
Just then the proctor informs you that the time is up. With a feeling of intense disgust you kick the mass of rubbish into a corner and go home, your head full of revolutionary schemes to abolish the divine right of professors to ask questions without the consent of the questioned.”
She was a very compassionate and ambitious person. Within few pages she show compassion for all – poor people, animals and even plants (her friends include trees). She loved books and she loved spending time in nature. I thought her disabilities would have imprisoned her to securities of walls, with all the dangers that outdoors can bring – but her rebellious spirit and her love of nature makes her overcome her fears.
“ The first Christmas after Miss Sullivan came to Tuscumbia was a great event. Every one in the family prepared surprises for me, but what pleased me most, Miss Sullivan and I prepared surprises for everybody else. The mystery that surrounded the gifts was my greatest delight and amusement. My friends did all they could to excite my curiosity by hints and half-spelled sentences which they pretended to break off in the nick of time. Miss Sullivan and I kept up a game of guessing which taught me more about the use of language than any set lessons could have done.”