The voice - a female - in front of me repeated the phrase like a mantra. My left hand guided the long cane left and right, clearing a path ahead while my right hand reaching out blindly for something to grab. There were voices everywhere, the same phrase being uttered by different persons but I drowned those noises out. Like the sailors drawn towards the sweet serenade of the mermaids, I too was mesmerized by mine, entrusting my safety to her lullabies. In pitch black darkness, her tender voice was my sense of direction.
This is not a scene from the American reality TV series, Total Blackout, but rather a workshop in #TSBreakAway called Dialogue in the Dark. Both programs thrive on its participants being surrounded in total darkness and having their wits tested. However, the similarities end here for there is more to Dialogue in the Dark than just a fear factor challenge.
Siti - that's the lady with the golden voice - led me and Roul to a spot and told us to stand still. How could she tell here from there in this darkness was beyond my imagination. While we were left to our own devices, we heard more and more peoples coming in, two by two at a time. Voices were getting louder and space crowded, yet I felt no one by my side except for Roul.
Once all of us had entered the blackout hall, the adventures began. We were divided into three groups based on the flavours of candies we were given earlier. Shouts of "durian", "mint" and "coffee" echoed throughout the room like the vendors in pasar malam bellowing out loud to draw the customers' attentions. It took more than 5 minutes for this chaotic scene to come to an end, with everyone in their rightful group. I am proud to say that Durian came out first in getting all its members in one table.
A series of activities were given to us that test our remaining five senses; touch, smell, taste, hear, and sense of humor. We performed it all in good sport, neither overly competitive nor with 'whatever!' attitude. Peals of laughter resonated in the dark room, not terrified shrieks or screams commonly associated with such scenarios. Somehow, we felt safe in the hands of these teammates of ours, all of us strangers to each other 24 hours ago.
At the end of the program, lights turned back on and we can finally match the faces to the voices. Team Durian's facilitator, Siti, was just as lovely as her voice has indicated. She shared her story of how she overcame her blindness, never letting it becoming a hindrance to achieving what she wants with her life. In fact, just like Siti, the remaining four facilitators are visually impaired peoples, yet, they see life clearer than some of us born with the gift of eyesight.
They say that if you lose one sense, your other senses will become stronger, sharper. How true is that myth, I have no idea. But coming out from the workshop, I gained a new perspective of life. Often we take God's givens for granted, acting as if they are our rights, not privileges, not knowing it is the other way around. During the early stage of the workshop, one of the facilitators asked us, "What darkness means to you". For me, darkness tells me to be appreciative of my sights.
|Nothing but kind words for Dialogue in the Dark|
Dialogue in the Dark is one of the workshops for #TSBreakAway, a pilot program initiated by Tourism Selangor.