At a first glance, R Balasaraswati, telephone operator, Central Bank of India, Madurai, looks no different from others. As she confidently answers the telephone, it is difficult to believe that she is visually challenged. One of the earliest students of IAB, the self-reliance mantra she learned here, she says, has made her completely independent. Today, this post graduate in Tamil literature, who has also appeared for the Officer’s examination at the Central Bank of India, lives by herself and confidently goes about the activities of her daily life, including cooking, grooming herself and commuting to work by public transport.
The eldest of six siblings, Bala was born in Karaikudi in 1961 with no vision in both eyes. Her parents were not aware of the importance of education for the visually challenged and were unwilling to send her to school. However, a family friend convinced them that education was indeed the only means to empower the visually challenged. Hence guided by the friend, her parents enrolled her in a school for the blind in Tirupathur near Karaikudi. She then completed her schooling from the Little Flower Convent, Chennai. There her teachers persuaded her to join IAB, which they were certain would provide her the space and opportunities to pursue her dream.
Bala joined IAB in --- and since then life is no longer the same for her. Inspired by SMA Jinnah, her mentor, she completed her post graduation and enrolled for a six-month telephone operator’s course. She then appeared for an interview and was appointed as telephone operator, Central Bank of India, Madurai, where she has been working for the last 24 years.
Today, the financially independent Bala supports her family, who she says look up to her for advice and guidance. Like any other person, Bala loves watching Tamil TV serials and closely follows the news channels. She also admits that she is very fond of clothes and jewelry and is always well dressed.
Bala is happy that societal attitudes towards the blind have improved over the years. For her, the world is her oyster… and life is all about living each day to the fullest….