Seeing is Believing

The writer, Maeve Binchy, was renowned for her literary soirées. Her guests were allowed ten minutes to talk about their ailments and that was it, a motto I share – enough already about dodgy hips and knees.

So, here’s my few minutes’ worth. I had an operation recently to remove my cataracts. It was cosmetic, but not in the same category as botox. Ten minutes and no pain, which was important. I don’t do pain. I even insisted years ago on a general anaesthetic for a vasectomy. This was after I’d gone to a back-street clinic in a doctor’s bedroom when birth-control was illegal in Ireland. The doctor said he couldn’t do a general anaesthetic as he was on his break. I joined him for lunch.

The morning after the eye operation I pulled back the bedroom curtains on a gorgeous day and saw clear edges to fence posts, birds in the orchard, colour in the flower bed. I shouted to my wife: “I can see. I can see. It’s a miracle.” It being 6am, she missed the biblical bit.

Since a child I’ve been fascinated by Antoin Raftery, the last wandering poet in Ireland. He was struck blind at seven years and lived by reciting and singing poems like this one, translated here:

     I am Raftery the poet,
     Full of hope and love,
     With eyes without light,
     Calm without anguish.

     Going back in my travels
     With the light of my heart
     Weary and tired
     To the end of my journey.

     Look at me now
     And my back to the wall,
     Playing music
     To empty pockets.

How lucky are we? Our generation won’t have milky eyes and white sticks like my parents’ generation. So Happy New Year to everyone, and especially Dr. Avadhanam and those nursing wonders in the NHS.

First published in Swindon Link

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