Little Muskaan Is Going Blind

Little Muskaan Is Going Blind

Little Muskaan Is Going Blind 320 240 Comfort Aid International
I sit in the shade, outside CAI built Al Zahra Boys Home in Sirsi, UP
India. My face and every exposed body part feel the scorching heat and humidity
out here. I earlier inspect new science laboratories and seven new classrooms
at the school across the orphanage all morning so am taking a well-deserved break.
I can see shimmer of heat creating mirages across the field that our children will
play cricket later today, seemingly unaffected by the suffocation I feel. Six
orphan puppies, cubs of our guard dog mauled to death by predators while
fighting to protect her litter, take shelter from the heat under a cluster of pretty
stressed flower plants, panting as they try to seek comfort from siblings in
the absence of their mother. Even a slight movement of squatting flies away
from my face brings instant beads of perspiration all over my body; even my
undies seem to weep at the effort.
I believe I am coming down with something dreadful. It has not been an
easy trip this. Punishing commute between villages in Afghanistan with very
little sleep, to Srinagar, Kashmir for a girls orphanage project and now in
remote Sirsi has, perhaps done harm to my immune system. I could go to the
air-conditioned guest room inside the orphanage building but that would entail
starting up a pricey, noisy, erratic generator so I am not bothered. Plus, the
brave man I am, I am scared silly of mice. For the first time in four years that
I regularly visit this orphanage, there are mice in the room. Yesterday,
Aliakberbhai and I finally go to sleep, at about 2AM, arriving from New Delhi,
driving six hours. I am in deep sleep when I feel light tapping in my back. I
open my eyes to look at Aliakberbhai in blissful slumber. If he is facing me,
who is it tapping my back? With my heart in my mouth, I leap out of the bed; so
does a tiny mouse, even more terrified than Î, who springs in the air and
frantically scurries to the safety of a refrigerator nearby. Earlier today,
after salaat, the room super chilly, I insert my feet into the warmth of a
comfortable blanket. Mr. Mouse thinks likewise, so my foot caresses a furry
ball. I scream the orphanage down, much to the merriment of staff and boys. No,
I am fine wilting away here in the heat. I am not going to sleep in that room
tonight either, not until the mice trio are shooed away or put to permanent
My feeling weedy and melancholy, even with excellent progress of school
labs, classrooms, both girls and boys orphanage ship-shape here in Sirsi and a
new classroom wing extension at Phanderi Sadaat Girls School some two hours
away has deeper reasons. Some three months ago, a friend observes I have lost laughter
and merriment; I have turned much serious with my association with CAI; a
grouch, he suggests. Then, I wave this off as a silly observation, of course. Now,
I am unsure. With worldwide Muslims, especially Shia Muslims in deep
suppression and oppression, what is there to elate and be happy about? I cannot
name a single country where Muslims are prosperous or happy. Can you? A smug
mug of Narender Modi all over the country as front contender for next Prime
Ministers post of India can easily slide even the most optimistic mind into
deep melancholy.
And then, early this morning, I meet Muskaan, a seven-year-old orphan
girl at the orphanage. She is going blind, you see. Muskaan is unique, for she
has no parents; both die within few years of each other. She is taken in by her
maternal grandmother, an old woman, poor and sick herself. Overwhelmed, she
turns to our orphanage for succor and is more than relieved to put Muskaan in
our care, which is fine of course; this is why we are here. Recently however,
our staff detect Muskaan does not follow instructions and takes inordinate time
performing routine tasks. When a doctor examines Muskaan, the diagnosis is swift
and devastating. She has very weak and unstable retinas, deterioration of
condition is certain, leading to eventual blindness. The doctors can only delay
the outcome with immediate surgery, one eye at a time. But it will be certain
blindness eventually, for sure.
This news is both numbing and painful, both to Aliakberbhai and I.
Aliakberbhai, who is more close to all the girl orphans as he visits them more frequently
than I, is not willing to accept the doctors verdict. He insists a more
qualified specialist be contacted, no expense spared. The doctor regards
Aliakberbhai with understanding, tolerant eyes; he has no objection to the
suggestion, but cautions us not to delay. Now, Muskaan will go through the
routine of being examined by a specialist and then certain surgery. This will
retard progress of the darkness that has begun engulfing this pitiful child of
Allah, whose wellbeing and care He has commanded and admonished us so much in
His book and through His representatives (A) on this earth. This darkness
engulfs me as well, suffocating me as I imagine my own Maaha Zainab in a
similar situation. I start violently, startling the slumbering puppies, who yelp
and whine in protest, but are unwilling to vacate their relatively comfortable place
under the almost weltered flower plants.
So here is little Muskaan, who has stolen my peace and quiet since I
learn of her predicament. I know of nothing that I can say to her that will
give her hope. But yes, I can pray for her, beseech my kind and merciful Lord
to please, please give Muskaan her sight back, even if I cannot be merry and
cheerful. I beg you to join me in praying for this beautiful child as well.
Miracles can, do happen. Insha’Allah.

I include photos of other orphan girls gleefully exploring my IPhone 5,
a novelty for them. Yes, we execute one mouse, the other two, unfortunately,


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