INVISIBILITY

When what you say no one hears, when you ask something no one responds, you become partly invisible. Being ignored is the worst form of invisibility. When you are ignored, you can’t always say,  ‘I don’t care’. A man wanted to share his grievances. Unfortunately, there were none. He goes to a therapist, tells her his stories about his life and work. She gives the man a patient hearing. At the end of the session, the man bursts into tears and says, “For the first time, I have felt like a human being.” He was so relieved that he could tell someone his stories. An authentic communication between two people is essential to remove the cloak of invisibility.

José Saramago describes a fictional city in his novel ‘Blindness’. In this city, suddenly all go blind. Blindness spreads like an infectious disease. There is despair. People are kept in a mental hospital. The only person who is not affected by the blindness is the ophthalmologist’s wife. The lack of vision ends as abruptly as it had begun. Saramago says, one of the major threats society faces is collective blindness — we lose the ability to see when the visible disappears in front of our eyes, when society itself becomes blind. Saramago ends his novel: “I don’t think we go blind, I think we are blind, blind, but seeing, blind peoplho can see, but do not see.”

HG Wells in ‘The Invisible Man’ writes about a scientist who becomes mentally unstable. The scientist theorizes, if the refractive index of a person changes to exactly that of air and his body does not absorb or reflect light, then he will be invisible. He successfully carries out this theory on himself and becomes invisible. But he did not know how to become visible again. Physics says if the reflected light from the object enters our eyes but cannot be distinguished from the surrounding objects, we cannot see it. If we know how to steer away the communications emanating from people or things we don’t want to see or perceive, they become invisible. Ralph Ellison, the author of ‘Invisible Man’, thus describes invisibility: “I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquid, and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible; understand, because people refuse to see me.”

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