Arya Ketan Mishra
A life without eyesight seems to be very challenging and difficult for us. Most of us will agree that leading a normal life with a visual impairment is next to impossible. However, there are exceptions in our society who every day prove this notion to be completely wrong as despite being visually impaired they tend to live like every other person around them with a healthy vision.
One such personality is 53-year-old Anand Chandra Sahu, a visually impaired person who runs a snack shop inside the Utkal University campus in Bhubaneswar all by himself for the last 20 years.
Students who crowd his shop to get quick bites between the classes are often amazed when they see Anand nonchalantly recognise the currency denomination, returning exact change and operating the microwave, fridge and other electronic equipments in the shop just with his sense of touch and a rough idea of distance.
Anand, who hails from Nayagarh district, was just four-years-old when he lost his eyesight after suffering from typhoid for six long months that severely affected his corneas.
However, Anand had not lost his hopes after the tragic turn in his life and came to Bhubaneswar to complete his schooling in a school for the visually impaired. After that, there was no turning back for Anand as he not just completed his secondary education but also paved his own way to get an M. Phil from Utkal University.
“I came to Bhubaneswar in 1977 and joined Bhima Bhoi School for the Blind to pursue my secondary education. After completing my schooling there, I got admission in Ravenshaw University (then Ravenshaw College) in Cuttack to complete my +2 and +3. I then returned back to Bhubaneswar and Joined Utkal University where I did my post-graduation and M.Phil in Sociology. I have also won several awards in cultural events during my educational career,” claimed Anand.
However, Anand, with his wife and two children depending upon him, probably had ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time as despite having such high educational qualifications, he was unable to make a fruitful career out of it.
“Odisha was going through a critical economical crisis when I completed my higher education at Utkal University in the 90s. Due to this, the Odisha government had frozen most of the job recruitments in the state,” said Anand.
“People surely opposed me for starting a business in the campus. But once my shop was set up inside the campus, people were very cooperative with me. No one has ever tried to steal anything from my shop and harass me. However, negligible miscalculations of a few bucks is a common thing for anyone who does business,” he said while serving the students crowding his shop.
On being asked whether he has ever been ripped off by any customer, Anand said that no one in the university has ever wished ill of him and he has never been duped during the 20 years of business in the campus.
“I have never expected anyone, including the government to help me exclusively due to my disability as I have never considered the visual impairment as a weakness of mine,” Anand said proudly.
On being asked about his message to society, he said, “A life lived without hardships is not worth considering a life. Whatever life throws at us, we should keep going without losing our spirit.”