EBU (Senior Group) Excellent Work
Dots on belly
Josef Zbranek (57, Male)

I openly admit that without this year’s announcement of Braille essays competition I would probably not realize that it has been exactly 50 years I learned the Braille as a small schoolboy. Such an anniversary deserves to be honored somehow. While it will not be any significant deed for the humanity, it will be at least an attempt for a cheerful essay.
Thinking back about the first months at school, I cannot remember any difficulties associated with learning literacy. It is much easier for first-graders than for people who have to master it in adulthood.
I belong to former little schoolchildren who after some time reached such a speed in reading that they could, for example, perform with reading in the public. My personal merit to this skill conditioned by innate disposition is minimal. For reading my rhetorical exposé I reaped in the past a lot of unearned admiration from listeners. However, one, who is actually unworthy, will get used to it over time without major problems.
To obtain such undeserved admiration I most misuse my reading skills today as an amateur musician in our country band of older gentlemen. My three teammates play stringed instruments and in front of them they have note stands with lyrics and chords. Of course, my file with songs is in my head while I have to sing three quarters of the repertoire. Fortunately, my hands are free as my musical instruments are mouth organs, which are fastened to my belt during my vocal creations. But even the trained huge memory of a blind man is not always enough. Among the hundreds of songs there are two or three, which somehow refuse to settle in the subconscious mind, not to mention new texts. And here comes the cheat sheet, i.e. the sheet with the text in Braille. I put it on my belly and vibrate the diaphragm. I emphasize we play standing which means that reading on the exterior of the digestive system is in this case anatomically most natural.
It is an unusual scenic show for the audience so it sometimes happens that somebody of them comes to my colleagues with a discreet question: “Why did that gentleman stroke his belly while singing?” At the beginning my colleagues explained the matter laughing. However, my teammates started to envy the admiration that always came after this explanation and made up a crafty answer useful for the whole band: “You know, he has such a bad habit he cannot get rid of. He strokes his belly whenever he is hungry or thirsty, respectively.” They always choose the variant of the response depending on what is missing on the musical table. When this information gets to the event organizer, a remedy usually occurs quickly as we mostly go to restaurants, parties and country balls with our musical productions.
The entertaining nature and authenticity of these situations is enhanced by the fact that my belly is, so to speak, in XXL size. As we can see, perhaps also because of Braille.


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