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Knowledge is love and light and vision. – Helen Keller
Helen Keller was an esteemed American author, disability rights advocate, political activist, and lecturer. The episode in this chapter is a small fragment of her great life. The chapter chronicles the dawn of her journey to an educated and independent life as a blind and deaf woman.
This is the story of her meeting the teacher who would change her life. It is a beautiful story of how a little seven-year-old girl grew determined to accept herself and navigate her life therefrom.
An Important Afternoon
Helen Keller recalls the afternoon of 3rd March 1887 as the most important day of her whole life. It was the afternoon of this eventful day, that her teacher Anne Mansfield Sullivan arrived. This was three months before she turned seven. Before her education, Helen was filled with anger and bitterness. She supposed herself as a ship stuck in a dense fog, surrounded with white darkness and without any compass or guide. Being blind and deaf took a toll on her and she desperately needed someone to guide her out of her misery. Just then, Anne Sullivan arrived as her savior.
The morning after Anne arrived, she gave Helen a doll sent by the blind children at Perkins Institution. Until later, Helen was unaware that Laura Bridgman had dressed it. While Helen played with the doll, Miss Sullivan slowly spelled the word doll onto her hand. An interested Helen imitated this spelling game and on succeeding, was filled with pride. Until then Helen was oblivious to the existence of spellings and words. She slowly learned to spell many words and finally unraveled the fact that everything had a name.
Helen who was new to spelling and learning names and words would often get muddled and fail to distinguish between two different objects. She shares an instance where she mistook water and mug to be the same. Once when her teacher tried to make Helen understand this, her impatience got the best of her and she threw her doll on the floor, resulting in it breaking. She felt no sorrow or regret for her passionate outburst.
Following this incident, Anne took Helen to the well-house. Someone was drawing water and Anne placed Helen’s hand under the spout. As one hand felt the cool stream, Anne spelled the word water on the other hand. It was at this moment that Helen suddenly felt like she found a missing piece in a puzzle. She, at last, understood that water meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over her hand.
This discovery awakened her soul, gave her the light and hope that she had always yearned for, and set her free. She left the well-house with a new determination and eagerness to learn. Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. When she returned home, every object that she touched seemed to come alive.
This was a result of her renewed perception. When she remembered the doll she had broken, she picked up the pieces and tried to put them together but her eyes turned teary. She realized her mistake and for the first time, felt repentance and sorrow.
Helen learned many new words that day. Among them were mother, father, sister, and teacher. The words made the world blossom for her and she felt like she had attained magical powers. That day she was the happiest child and as she lay in her crib, for the first time in forever she longed for a new day to come.
The story of Helen Keller is immensely inspiring and awe-worthy. It teaches one to be patient and brave. Regardless of her condition, Helen Keller never gave up. Instead, she fiercely stood up and learned to live life to the fullest. We often get disheartened at the smallest inconvenience, this story teaches us to adapt and improvise.
Helen was not born this way, but a childhood illness turned her blind and deaf. Rather than wasting her life sulking, she gained knowledge and decided to advocate it. Anne Sullivan too excelled in her role as a guide and teacher. She understood that Helen required special assistance and was patient with her throughout their entire journey. One must attempt to always spread knowledge and positivity, for they are things that do not diminish even after sharing.