Our apartment is on the first floor of our building. I have a habit of drinking my coffee, standing at the window that looks down on the open space in our compound. One afternoon, a few months ago, cup in hand, I was looking out of the window, when I noticed that the distance from the window to the ground below seemed to be much less than usual. I looked more carefully, but the result was the same- the ground seemed to have come up at least six or seven feet.
I have mentioned here before, that for the past few years, I have had a neurological condition called Multiple Sclerosis. One of my first symptoms was, that I had problems with perception of depth/ distances. When I walked, I would put my foot on what I thought was the ground, but was actually a few inches above the ground. An object ten feet away and another fifteen feet away, would seem to be at the same distance. If I went to place a book on a table, there was every possibility that I would let it go, not on the table, but in the air beside the table.
As you can imagine, this made any everyday task, particularly walking, quite an adventure. This problem lessened considerably after treatment, but for a couple of months it made my life very interesting.
On that particular afternoon, when I saw the ground to be higher than usual, I thought that my earlier symptoms had recurred. By the time my husband came home in the evening, I had pictured all sort of dire future scenarios in my imagination, and had become very upset. I related to my husband what had happened, and to my surprise, instead of sympathising with me, he started laughing!
It seemed that they were laying down new pavement tiles in the compound of our building. That morning a truckload of gravel had been deposited right under our window, to be used in the tiling work. It was this mountain of gravel that I had seen when I looked out of the window, and thought that my eyes had begun to play tricks on me again.
Needless to say I was very relieved to hear this explanation. After I was certain that there was no problem with my perception, I was able to see the humour in the situation, too!
I am reminded of this experience of mine, often, nowadays. Every morning, as matter of fact, when I read the newspaper. It appears that neutral and factual reporting has become a thing of the past. We read about political or social happenings, but get to know only one viewpoint- the reporter’s. Some facts are suppressed, others are twisted, so that not the clear picture but a distorted one is placed before us.
If the print media is bad, the news channels are even worse. News channel anchors play the role of spin doctors, on behalf of whichever politicians they are associated with. The Indian television media has become quite expert at creating illusions. In screeching tones, the television news channel anchors bombard us with carefully scripted stories and opinions. We hear them over and over again, until we begin to believe them, whether they are true or not.
Let us wake up before it is too late. Let us not allow the media to distort our perspective. Let us ourselves go into our society and see what the reality is. Let us consider only the facts, and make our own deductions. Let us ourselves measure the distance between the ground and the window.