Ever heard of someone being blind and still working with sharp chisels and a whizzing planer all alone? Here is a story of one such man and his arduous journey in life.
This is Ghulam Qadir Kharaati at his workshop in Industrial Estate Anantnag, slicing poplar clefts.
Despite being visually impaired, Qadir can grasp his tools like any other carpenter.
Holding a chisel in three of his right-hand fingers, he slides the rest of it against a benchmark attached to his planer machine to help him judge the coordinates of his workpiece.
Before putting aside a piece as declared fit for the customers’ use, it has to undergo a final trial.
It is the gentle caressing by Qadir’s hands by which he determines the coarseness of its surface and the depth of its cuts and grooves.
Qadir’s story goes back to when he was in class 9th and his father noticed his erratic way of keeping his books closer to his eyes.
The doctors diagnosed him with vision related problems and suggested him to leave his studies and ‘do some business’ instead.
Remembering the names of few all-time hits in Urdu fiction, Qadir says, “Even though I was fond of my studies, I had to leave it and take over my father’s wood-carving workshop.”
Qadir, for the next three years, learned the intricacies and mastered the art under his father’s tutelage at their Lalchowk shop in Anantnag where they would make wooden toys.
Later when their workshop was gutted in a fire, the duo stayed home, and counted on others for helping them meet their household expenses.
Married in his early life and having three daughters and one son, Qadir, after his father’s death, was forced to restart the work on his own with the machine his father had procured earlier.
Soon after, Qadir suffered a sudden heart attack. However, the well-timed help from the local Auqaf committee got him a pacemaker implanted and saved his life.
Unnatural to a hardened worker like him, Qadir happens to be a jolly man full of dynamic experiences.
Qadir talks about his youthful liking for movies and his frequent visits to different cinemas. Qadir and his friends would bunk off school and slip into the local Ashajipora cinema to watch Bollywood superhits.
Qadir also shares his memories of dreadful 1990s when ‘Tehreek emerged’. “Newspapers would announce the death of tens of persons daily and shops would often shut minutes after opening. Those were the perilous times.”
Since his workshop is away from his residence, Qadir depends on his son to ferry him there and back.
“I have developed this habit of packing my daily lunch, other eatables and necessary items at home and leaving for my workplace daily. I even offer Namaz there.”
At the workshop, Qadir has, over the years, grown accustomed to all the corners of the place. He does not find it difficult to work nor does he struggle while searching for things he has put at their specific places etched on his memory.”
One can only feel amazed at how skilful and accurate the master is at his art.
Qadir believes that being blind does not mean disabled. He says that he has carried on with his work as a lifelong challenge to prove that life is worth living no matter what.