Here is the story of an old couple, who lost their sight due to cataract and suffered life with vision loss for three long years. Years during which they lived alone and survived only due to their love for each other.
What was needed was a simple surgery. This is the fate of the unreached in India who need not be blind. But fortunately there are organizations who are there to help.
For Gafoor, 80 years old and Shahidhan, 75 love for each other was, perhaps, the only reason that gave them a motivation to live and face the dark drudgery of life with stoic silence.
In their over 60 years of married life, the couple, living in rural Uttar Pradesh, had their share of ups and downs in life and it had more often than not been a struggle. But their love for each other was never put to the test more than in the last few years. A difficult life of surviving on daily wages earned by them became all the more challenging when they gradually started losing their sight.
When their vision diminished further and they became blind, life became a nightmare for the old couple. They approached each day with trepidation. With their vision gone, each simple daily chore that earlier was simple, seemed insurmountable. Even moving around the house was a challenge. Menial tasks like cleaning, washing or going to the toilet started becoming impossible. With no children or relatives to help, for over three years the couple were dependent on the goodwill of the villagers who dropped in occasionally to feed or clean up the couple.
Fortunately their fate took a turn towards sunshine as the Hospital Based Community Eye Health Project implemented by Operation Eyesight in collaboration with Dr. Jawahar Lal Rohatgi Eye Hospital in Kanpur District, Uttar Pradesh was God-send for the couple.
During a door to door survey which was conducted in the project target area to identify those with eye problems and at risk of going blind, the Community Eye Health Workers were shocked to find the couple covered in filth.
The Community Health Workers assessed the vision of the old couple and diagnosed them with being blind due to cataract in both the eyes. The couple were counseled to undergo surgery at the hospital free of cost to them.
However, the couple who had supported each other morally for the past three years were apprehensive to leave each other alone for the fear that the other person may not be able to survive. They told the Community Eye Health Workers that they would rather die blind together than be separated.
Nivedita, the Project Coordinator and Dr. Shivam Maini the Project In-charge and Ophthalmologist at the hospital visited the couple and assured them they both would be taken to the hospital and both would undergo surgery on the same day and brought back to their home together.
Convinced, the couple consented and underwent surgery for one eye and after a month for their second eye. Post surgery they regained their vision. They are now very happy and self dependent. Gafoor can now take care of his wife well. Shahidhan is able to look after their house and even manage to cook food. They stated that that being blind although was a terrible nightmare, just being together helped them overcome their sorrow. And they readily agreed with Dr. Maini that the only thing that should be blind is love!