This experience enriched me with such joy and contentment that no riches could ever impart. Leading the blind to smiles and laughter was the most gratifying part of my life as a laughter Guru.
It was in the year 1997 I was invited to a blind school in Mumbai to conduct a laughter session. Though I agreed I must admit that I was a little apprehensive as to how to make them laugh? Usually in laughter clubs we use eye contact and laugh by looking at each other as it is infectious. But it was obvious that this technique was unsuitable in a blind school.
Even as I pondered over the problem, I invited my friend P.T. Hinduja to join me in conducting laughter exercises. On our way to school we discussed many possibilities of making them laugh. But it was of no use. We were quite clueless and finally decided to think of something right on the spot.
Before proceeding to do a laughter session I realized it was important to first establish an intimacy with the students by talking to them. As they were disabled this connection would facilitate a bond and create a rapport which will help them to laugh.
I went closer to the students and wished them. I shook hands and touched each one of them and asked them their names. I could sense a very positive response to a physical touch. They felt secure when close.
I requested them to make pairs and touch and feel each other’s face. The experience was exhilarating for them. Their faces had a certain spark which conveyed their emotions.
Touch was almost similar to eye contact. We then went ahead with the laughter session. They put their hands on each other’s shoulders and did the laughter exercises. They shook hands, hugged each other and felt the vibration of laughter.
Though inhibited in the beginning, they soon opened up and laughed their way to tears. It was my moment of joy and happiness. Seeing them laugh so heartily, I decided to make them laugh twice a week.
They looked forward to these sessions and we became quite close. I inquired about their families, their dreams, hopes and aspirations. Most of them were keen to learn some skills which would help them to become independent. They did not want people to sympathize and take pity on them. Wanting to be self reliant and accepted as being normal was their utmost need.
During one of our discussions, I expressed a desire to take them out. ‘Let’s go for a movie,’ I suggested. No sooner had I said it I realized my blunder. I had spoken without thinking and was worried they would be extremely offended. But I was pleasantly surprised when they all agreed and said it was a good idea. They said that they would see the film with their ‘ears’ instead of their ‘eyes.’ I could see the self confidence in their ability.
They were really excited when we reached the cinema hall. There was much amusement among the other people as they were surprised to see blind people in a movie theatre! Some of them couldn’t believe what was going on. There was amazement al over. The whole exercise had generated a lot of attention.
We were accompanied by a television crew from an international channel who was recording their feelings of joy every moment. It was a very popular Hindi movie with many songs. They were fully involved with the story of the film and were emoting at every situation. At the end of the movie they were flushed with happiness because this was their first such experience. They touched me with immense gratitude and immediately had the ‘laughing doctor’ in tears!!!
This was a spiritual experience- humbling and satisfying. When I met them after a few days I was amazed that most of them remembered the story. In fact some even remembered important dialogues. They were very right. They could see with their ‘Ears.’
This beautiful episode taught me that nothing is impossible. With faith in one’s abilities and confidence in one’s potential, one can build a better world for oneself as well as for others. Never be afraid of failure. It only enhances the prospect of success.
Learn to laugh at disappointments and be willing to try again. It’s never too late for anything. So just go ahead…