A majority of my blind students at the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs in Trivandrum, India, a branch of Braille Without Borders, came from the developing world: Madagascar, Colombia, Tibet, Liberia, Ghana, Kenya, Nepal and India.
I, for one, find writing excruciating. Some mornings, as I'm on my way to my desk, my hands actually tremble with fear. The fear, of course, is that I'll sit down at the desk and discover that what I've written is claptrap. Fear inevitably leads to procrastination.
One of the most persistent misconceptions about blindness is that it is a curse from God for misdeeds perpetrated in a past life, which cloaks the blind person in spiritual darkness and makes him not just dangerous, but evil.
I fear that my mind would starve and that I might find myself in danger if I had no visual information, that it's chiefly the light, the shapes, the spaces, the colors that I see that compel me to keep moving forward in life and that keep me safe.
My mother had seven children in seven years. No twins. She also had a three-legged beagle who was compelled to bite strangers, a freakishly big double-pawed tomcat who regularly left dead rabbits on the front doorstep, and 70 white mice that one or another of us had smuggled home from my father's research laboratory.
When sighted people cover their eyes or find themselves in a dark place, this is something that's very terrifying for us. And so in general, we assume that this is what blindness means. But of course, it isn't. For people who were born blind or who go blind at a very young age, that's not at all what blindness means.
I think most memoirs, though they purport to be about this particular time or this person you met, are really about the effect that person or time had on you.
Most of us who have healthy eyesight are extremely attached to our vision, often without being conscious that we are. We depend heavily on our eyes, and yet we rarely give them a second thought. I, at least, am this way. The physical world is almost hyper-vivid to me.
The night sky in Egypt is a swirling mass of stars so bright and numerous the sky seems to tremble with the ice-blue weight of them.
Not one day of my mother's adult life passed without some critical demand on her maternal role, without some urgent response from her.
Nobody's perfect, and to try to pretend you're perfect is an exhausting fool's errand.
One of the many misconceptions about the blind is that they have greater hearing, sense of smell and sense of touch than sighted people. This is not strictly true. Their blindness simply forces them to recognize gifts they always had but had heretofore largely ignored.
Aversion toward the blind exists for the same reason that most prejudices exist: lack of knowledge. Ignorance is a powerful generator of fear. And fear slides easily into aggression and contempt.
The Egyptian Nile, though it does have its own particular hazards, is subject to none of what I find in Rhode Island. Since the Aswan High Dam was built in 1973, the Nile has become something of a grand canal. It is wide, flat, slow, and so calm it verges on the geriatric.
I am not afraid to die. I simply do not want to.
I wanted Lillian Hellman to be perfect because I wasn't perfect myself. I really wanted a mentor.
I was a good student, sort of funny and athletic. I had friends.
Writing is not a genteel profession; it's quite nasty and tough and kind of dirty.
A lot of Polish and Russian Jews had this experience: they would emigrate, thinking they were on their way to New York. Then their captains would stop in Dublin and say, 'Everybody off.' They would leave, and by the time they discovered they weren't in America, they didn't have enough money to continue.
Americans generally associate boats with leisure. Vastly less prosperous, Egyptians associate them with nothing but labour. Rowing a boat is something a fisherman is forced to do to make a living; how could such an activity bring me - a woman no less - pleasure?