EBU(Junior Group) Fine Work
I only think of you by Miguel Fernández Páez
Male, 21 years of age, Spain

Dear Braille code,

I owe it to you. I owe you so much. After many failed intents, due to my lack of persistence or patience to select the adequate words to explain what I want to tell you, I finally write to you. I shall begin recalling you the importance you have for me and for so many others like me.

We will always be grateful to your creator, this universal French man called Louis who took literally this very Spanish expression of “dotting the i's and crossing the t's”. Not without reason, it provided us with an eternal legacy at a time when blindness had a greater impact than ever and printed an indelible mark on who endured it.

And this is what I want to talk to you about, my inseparable and irreplaceable friend. You have to know and I need to let off some steam.

In this age of technological globalization, many blind people don’t like you anymore.

How did the story change, eh? When Louis created you, you became the light at the end of the tunnel for people who lived in darkness, unable to communicate in writing. Do you remember the way they all worshipped you then, come rain or shine? It was no wonder. After waiting for endless centuries, the word had become paper for us. You expanded, you got popular and you perpetuated in time. But today, fragile memory and virtual magic threaten to destroy all this. And we must rebel ourselves; all together.

Against selective amnesia and the elusiveness of the universe, I use traffic memories and tactile reality. I rewind my mnemonic tape and, like the disabled in Victor Manuel’s song, I only think of you.

I only think of you, dear Braille code, when I take myself back to when I was five and my mind recalls my teacher, Ana, who taught me, with care and determination, how to join syllables while my classmates studied what they saw. I also remember my parents, beaming but sceptical about my capacity to read at the same speed as the other pupils. Later on, I recreate the long mornings of exams along with my usual childhood companion, the thunderous Perkins machine. With the support of Ana’s transcriptions, we ruffled eardrums and overcame challenges. You used to like raising your voice and you left no-one indifferent, but you proved to be a timely friend and a fussy one too. Time would have to lower decibels.

I only think of you when I revive the afternoons of reading and the years at high school. I link them with silence, but above all with superpowers. The superpowers conferred to me by the numerous volumes of J. K. Rowling full of dots, and the Braille Lite. Thanks to both of them, I held the world in my hands whenever I wanted, always certain that it would only escape if I let it. I could set the pace and stop time, evading with literature or consulting the incessant passing of the chronometer, second by second in the splendid gadget which had charmed me.

A pleasure as simple as checking the time on the Braille Lite meant the same to me as playing with its homonym Nintendo for my flesh and brotherly friends. I had never imagined being able to do without human or electronic talking intermediaries, for such a purpose.

Like Guido, the main character of the film “Life is Beautiful” was spellbound by Dora when looking at her and he would tell her clandestine love words through a loudspeaker, I am captivated me as I stroke you, my good friend. I only think of you every passing minute since I assimilated you. For me, existence is an infinite page where each event is translated with combinations of six dots. No word, short or long, Spanish or foreign, known or unknown, pronounced or still to be verbalized, can seep into my ear and get away from being drawn in Braille by my brain before being processed and assimilated. I am not against computer improvements making my everyday life easier, how could I be if even you, my groped code, absorb them?! Simply, I don’t understand how other blind people, willingly or unwillingly, are deprived from perceiving reality the way I do. It’s against nature and it sullies centuries of struggles.

And, you know what? All is not lost! There is still some hope!

Many sighted people are still curious to unravel your secrets. My friend Alba insisted that I should unveil, at least, some basic notions regarding your charms. Having travelled to numerous fascinating countries, she wished to return to the one the humanist Rainer Maria Rilke described as the true homeland: childhood. She told me then that she was amazed at observing raised numbers in lifts and she felt frustrated because they all looked the same to her. She was fascinated when she realised that her name was one of the few that can be written by using only the left hand, with the exception of the capital letter.

Another friend, who is blind, with the timely name of Lucía, told me that when she was seven, playing hide-and-seek, she fell and dramatically injured her leg. The doctor informed her that she would need seventeen stitches. She, without thinking twice and to the bewilderment of her parents, remained silent for a while and then replied smiling: seventeen? It all fits. Two plus four, six; plus one, seven; plus two, nine; plus three, twelve; plus three, fifteen; plus two; ... seventeen!: b, r, a, i, l, l, e, Put them in Braille, doctor!”

For my part, as you may imagine, at this point, I dream of you with my eyes open and closed.

I dream of you in full light when I project a game of chess without feeling the pieces, because I use as a guide the letters and numbers embossed on the sides of my adapted chessboard. Also when I take a medicine with a label in Braille, because there is no other placebo more effective than you, or when I shower with a recognisable shampoo, because I feel purified when I make contact with your letters. And also, of course, when I imagine myself decorating, thanks to you, the Atletico de Madrid’s football shirt as European Champion, with the name of Diego Pablo Simeone and the caption “While others sleep, we dream”.

If we talk of fantasy in the dark, television sets have a “Braille mode” which allows us to read the labels from a distance and even decode scenes without sound.

In the same way, music scores include a serial magnet which saves us from hours of tedious memorization. But, above all, all blind people are born with a gen which inspires them an unconditional love for you, my dear friend Braille.

I owe it to you. I owe you so much...


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