21st July 2018

Music, Humor and Other Things that are ‘Life’ to the Deaf

“I think this initiative by Coke Studio Pakistan, to reach out to the deaf community is just an amazing, unthinkable experience – as to how you can convert music into something which they can relate to,” expressed Faisal Kapadia at a recent occasion where Coke Studio made a fabulous attempt to engage a few of the nine million people in Pakistan who’re impaired to hear but love embracing the rhythm of music through touch and sight.

And no, I’m not quoting him just because I was once  nicknamed “Kapadia” after him at a former workplace, due to my.. ahem…husky and far-from-girly voice. I was oblivious to it for the longest time, but let’s save this story for some other day 🙂

Hence came about the revolutionary Coke Studio for the Deaf! A unique couch harbouring numerous vibration engines and LED lights, in-sync with the sound of the song on play-mode is placed right in the center of the sacred music studio. A grand LED installation encircling the couch provides corresponding mood lighting for superior visuals. The LED screen placed right ahead displays the video playback, as the studio is decked up with guitars on stands, a drum kit and a keyboard on a stand creating more of a musical ambiance, overall. How incredible is that! Wish some day soon this magic couch and setup is more readily available for more of our deaf folks to immerse their senses in the sheer joy and goodness of music 🙂

Coke Studio for the Deaf

My first interaction with some remarkable deaf kids was when about three years ago I had organised an art competition for the students of the Deaf Reach School with the intent to create awareness about the facility and more so to uplift the confidence of these kids that they too can be a part of an event wherein their talent is appreciated and rewarded.

It was basically held to derive artworks for Season’s Greeting Cards that were later printed and sold to generate revenue for the school.  The art competition took place at Dolmen Mall Clifton where these kids showcased their creative prowess and at the same time enjoyed the exposure and the interactive atmosphere of this ever hustling, bustling mall of Karachi.

'Deaf Reach School' Kids' Hand drawn Seasons Greeting Cards were available at the Dolmen Malls for sale during the annual shopping festival
‘Deaf Reach School’ Kids’ Hand-drawn Seasons Greeting Cards were available at the Dolmen Malls for sale during the annual shopping festival. Revenues earned were rewarded to the Deaf Reach School by DolmenCares.

In turn, the onlookers also were rather delighted to watch Pakistan’s sign language lexicon enacted word by word on the screen placed right across our young artists as they continued intriguing the crowd nonetheless. People learnt how the deaf Pakistan communicated various terms & words. It came as quite a surprise to me just as it did for many around, learning as to how each country’s sign language is unique, even in cases of the same entities; ‘water’ for instance!


Jury of renowned artists - Mrs. Riffat Alwi & Mrs. Rumailla Karim grant the Winner's certificate to the 3rd position holder - Aysha Arshad of the two-day art competition, wherein 30 kids of the Deaf Reach School actively participated.
Jury – Mrs. Riffat Alwi & Mrs. Rumailla Karim grant the Winner’s certificate to the 3rd position holder – Aysha Arshad of the two-day art competition, wherein 30 kids of the Deaf Reach School actively participated.

Each of these talented kids were all smiles and distinctly pleasant to interact with. After having impressed me with their artsy skills, their bonding among each other over a meal we shared later that eve was a refreshing sight to witness too!  They giggled all along over “inside jokes” only understood by them – a kind of humour the hearing lot may never be able to interpret and enjoy.

Maybe one such joke could be what the old tales hold – a deaf couple checking into a motel and going to bed. The wife woke her husband in the middle of the night and complained of a headache and wanted him to get some aspirin from their car. Groggy with sleep, he struggled to get up and left the room to go to the car. He found the aspirin, and with the bottle in hand he turned toward the motel. But he couldn’t recall which room was his. After thinking a moment, he returned to the car, placed his hand on the horn, held it down, and waited. Very quickly the motel rooms lit up… all but one. It was his room, of course where his wife couldn’t hear the horn. He locked up his car and headed toward the only room without the lights on 🙂

The moment got me thinking. Thinking what if their peers were kids blessed with the ability to hear; what if they mingled more frequently in an academic environment with the hearing lot. Would that jeopardise their confidence and in turn their chance at learning and development, or would it instead allow these hard of hearing kids to be more adjusting, sociable and welcomed in the society motivating them to catch up with the mainstream education?

Though, a mere 2% of the estimated 1.25 million deaf kids attend school in Pakistan, the question as to whether they should be at special schools with their deaf counterparts or at traditional schools among other kids for better means of education may appear to be non-consequential. What do you feel about this?

Meanwhile we ponder, let the deaf Pakistan enjoy the beats of the universal language, here onwards!

About Fatma Khalil 10 Articles
Made of faith, spirituality, madness, humour.

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