He only knows people by their voices. He can pick his mother and father out of a crowd from fifty feet away. He knows the soft, comforting voice of his mother and the jovial jumble of his father. Though he has never seen them, he knows them. And he has a pretty good idea of what they look like.
He knows his sister’s voice, too. And his little brother’s, and he’s never been fooled by either of them — not even that time they tried to trick him before his brother, that punk, hit puberty — because he knows the rise and fall of their unique pitches.
His friends have their own voices, too, though they don’t come around much anymore since they all found apprenticeships and tutors — all out of town, naturally. And as for all the other voices? Well, he’s always listening, but he’s learned to only pick out and listen to the most important voices these days. Only the ones saying true and good and right things are the ones worth listening to. He’s found that people have plenty to talk about, but very little to say.
He has been sitting out on the streets for a while now, ever since his schooling ended. He could only learn so much, being blind since birth, though his parents and teachers and classmates taught him as much as they could by just speaking the text. Which was okay with him; he thought learning to read sounded like a boring and frustrating task, with syllables coming out in spurts and jolts. He was content to listen and learn. But there weren’t many opportunities for employment as a blind person, and the reasons ranged from simple lack of knowledge, education and skill, to the fact that his culture attributed every malady to a grievous sin committed by him or even his parents.
It is something he’s reminded of on a regular basis.
Sometimes he thinks people assume he can’t hear them since he can’t see them. But, of course, that’s not true; he hears every conversation as they wonder out loud to each other what he must have done to deserve blindness. Some days they come up with some real doozies that make him downright laugh. Other days, he wonders what the reason truly is. And on rare occasions, though less rare than he’d like to admit, he’s frustrated, angry even, that he’s the one sitting here on this dusty ground, begging. Why him? Why here? Why, God?