Can you define darkness without mentioning light?

The hall is poorly lit. We are nearly in darkness. There is an unnatural silence; the music is very soft to the ears. This is the day everyone has been waiting for; another chapter is being added to the annals of our history. All eyes shift to the direction of the object of interest – the reason we are all gathered here tonight.

As he saunters majestically into the hall, his wife by his side, over the red carpet, on the central aisle towards the dais, everyone stands up. And as if on a cue, with each of his steps, the light glows brighter and brighter, from the back rows to the front; figures of men and women become noticeable and faces come up.

The faint music gradually becomes more and more audible; the palpable anxiety of a few minutes ago is gradually vanishing; the uncertainty is over. He has made it at last!

As his first step lands on the stage, the light is at its brightest; the music rises to a crescendo and suddenly transforms into the national anthem! For the first time, I can actually see and recognise familiar faces all around me.

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The hall is exquisitely decorated. An ark of a beautiful rainbow skirts the podium and colourful butterfly-like animations float all over the scenery. Figuratively, the forces of light have triumphed over the forces of darkness. Light and darkness! Two great words with deep meaning! My mind takes a plunge into philosophy and soon I get lost in thoughts.

“What is darkness? Light I know and can easily define.  Is darkness the opposite of light?” I ask myself. I find I can’t define darkness without mentioning light.

We can measure light, like we can measure a block. If the block is not there, you cannot measure it. We cannot measure darkness because it is not a separate entity as light!

There is either light or no light. When there is light; you see and when there is no light you cannot see! That is why it is impossible to manage darkness. You cannot manage what you cannot measure!

As if to prove the point, all of a sudden, PHCN strikes! The well illuminated hall is now in total darkness. Accompanying the darkness is the stillness of the night; the audience is quiet; everything is quiet. In the dark, I can see nothing. No-one can see me too!

So, darkness is nothing and that is why it cannot be measured except in terms of light! My thoughts are punctured by the voice seated next to me. “What is happening?” She asks. “The lights are gone and we are in darkness,” I reply.

“What is darkness?” She asks again. “It makes no difference to me whether there is light or there is no light. I am always in a state of perpetual darkness,” she adds. I turn round to look at her face but then the darkness is intense. I see nothing; absolutely nothing! There isn’t a trace of light in the hall!

“How did you go blind?” I ask. She tells her story: “I have been blind from about the age of six. I was told I had measles. My mother did not take me to the hospital; instead she squeezed some herbs and concoctions in my eyes. After a long battle at saving my sight, I lost both eyes.

“Suddenly the generator roars into action. The whole room is lit up. Darkness once again is banished. I look at the young lady beside me. Her smiling face betrays no change of emotion.

“Do you always wear a smiling face?” I ask. “I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad.

Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.” She continues, “Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.”

Yes indeed, we are among the privileged. She is echoing the words of Helen Keller, the brave blind and deaf woman. Finally she says again, “It is hard to interest those who have everything in those who have nothing.”

If you have your sight and can read this, spare a thought for the blind. Think about the young woman who remains blind in darkness or in light. Do something about it today!

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