Fine Work (Japan)
Masaharu Yoshimatsu, Fukuoka Prefecture
There is a junior high school across the street on which the school for the blind I work for is located. It's a stone's throw, and we once complained to that school about the noise of announcements made for rehearsals during their regular athletic meet period. I don't remember when, but those two schools, located so close to each other, started exchange of education. Today, we mutually participate in each other's culture festivals and athletic meets. Furthermore, we sometimes participate in each other's classroom lessons. For general lessons, teachers of our school visit the neighbor school and give instructions about special subjects including eye mask experience, supported walking or Braille lessons. For Braille, we give a beginners' lesson in which the students learn from 50 kana letters to writing simple sentences. It is then understood that our visually challenged teachers visit them on the last lesson of the exchange program and talk about their experience.
Last year, I was asked to serve as a lecture for this exchange program. On a day in the first term, I spoke about what it was like being visually challenged and how such people live day by day in front of 80 third-year schoolers in their gym. I was asked various questions. One of them is, "Do you dream when you sleep?" This is one of the popular questions when I talk to elementary schoolers. I answer, "Of course I do." But I can't explain exactly how I dream. I sometimes have a dream of the scenery I once saw. I dream of the people I met or the experience I had after I lost my vision. But I cannot exactly explain to others how the things whose shape I don't know or the people whose faces I don't know appear in my dreams. I also received such questions as "What is it that you saw last before you lost my vision?" or "What do you want to see if you regain your vision?"
These are very difficult to answer. The last thing I saw, I don't remember of course. There are things of which shape or appearance still clearly remains in my mind and others things I can't remember at all. Considering it's nearly 40 years ago when
I lost my vision, it can't be helped. I remember very well my own face or the faces of my mother or sister. Unfortunately the face of my father who died when I was a small child is gone from my memory.
What is it that I want to see first if I can see again? The faces of my family members? It doesn't make a difference if I see the face of my wife who is nearly 50. It's definitely the face of my daughter after all, perhaps. That's how I answered.
A few days later, the students who listened to my presentation sent me Braille-written letters about their impressions. They wrote short essays describing how they felt about my speech seemingly in a single class time, and so the essays aren't that long. Some Braille sentences are very hard to read. Others are so well, beautifully and legibly written that I wondered how they could do that to my happy surprise. One of the essays goes like this:
What I wish I could see again if I lost my vision is the blue sky.
What a poetic sentence? She must have a very beautiful mind. The totally blind mentor of mine said he would want to keep watching all the people coming and going in a busy street if he were able to see again. He said he wanted to see beautiful women of this day. As many years passed since you lose your vision, your criterion for "beautiful women" would change. Do I want to see the present day's beautiful women? That is certainly a very fascinating notion. But come to think of it, I wonder what exactly is it that I want to see? Blue sky! The sky as blue as one can see can certainly encourage people or console people. It can also make us feel clean and fresh as if we were born again. The blue sky bright and glaring in the summer or the sky as blue as one can see in the autumn. The blue sky might give us hope all the time. So I walked out of the house and looked up the sky. Although I can't see a pure blue sky, while I was exposed to an ample shower of sunlight, the blue sky I once saw showed up in front of my eye, and I felt like I had a supple, honest and fresh mind again. Although I won't be able to see this blue sky again, whenever I look up the sky, I can always feel a grand blue sky in my mind. I had a feeling that the blue sky taught me anew to live like that. This blue sky still spreads ahead of the areas inflicted by the Tohoku Earthquake. I just wish the blue sky encourages them.