¡Highly Commended
gThe Chorush
Ms. Kayoko Sasaki (48), Nagareyama City, Chiba Prefecture

gIt must be hard being blind. You must be suffering a lot.h
I wonder if thatfs true.
gAre you sure an operation wonft cure you?h
Yes, I am sure.
Itfs so frustrating. I have been visually challenged for twenty-five years. Still, it frustrates me.
Have you ever wondered how deeply your words, uttered without much thinking, can hurt somebodyfs feelings?
Itfs so frustrating and irritating. I struggle with my inner turmoil.
This is not good. I have to calm myself down before my emotional waves get too rough.
Then I turn on a tape recorder, and out comes the sound of our chorus practice. Yes, that was where I made a mistake in the lyrics.
Oh no, I am out of tune there.
Good, this part is perfect. Beautiful harmony.
Here and there I hear candid conversations between chorus members and our teacher and cannot help but smile.
Before I knew it, I was singing along with the tape recorder.
How wonderful singing is.
Music is good. The chorus is good.
I joined the choral club simply because I like singing. Without any previous experience, I wondered if I would be able to handle it.
I practiced hard so as not to hold back the other members.
Even though I like singing, I do not know the lyrics well.
So I make lyric cards in Braille. If I read them while singing, I can at least avoid making mistakes in the lyrics . At moments like this, I am grateful for Braille.
I concentrate on my listening and try not to sing of tune. Though I cannot see, I am grateful that I can hear.
I read the lyrics again and again and sing as the image of the song expands in my mind.
gGood, good. Thatfs the way.h
The teacher complements my singing.
I am happy and it feels good.
Oh yes, how I love to sing. I feel grateful for Braille again.
Life is long. Even if you are born healthy, things donft always end that way. Everyone goes through some sort of incident, from small to large, including the loss of vision.
I cannot see, but I can hear and I have a voice. So I sing.
Others who love to sing gather and form our chorus. Multiple voices compose a beautiful harmony, and we forget that we cannot see.
Oh, how wonderful the chorus is.
Each member tries hard to sing and make beautiful resonant sounds.
We all scrutinize the lyrics and sing as the image of the song expands in our minds.
Some enlarge the letters of the lyrics while others strive to remember all the words.
Still others bring the lyrics in Braille and read them while singing.
We all have different levels of vision, but everyone is visually challenged.
When and where we were born differs, but we all like singing, we all like the chorus. Enlarged letters, sharp memories, and Braille create a beautiful harmony.
I am grateful that we have Braille and we have music. Also, I am grateful that I can hear.
My life is all about gratitude.
But, to tell the truth, it is hard to be blind and I am suffering a lot. Because so much of the information around us is visual, being deprived of sight means being forced to stop being human.
It is hard and I am suffering.
Yet no amount of complaining would ever bring back my sight.
So I keep all the complaints buried deep down, smile, and say,
gExcuse me, could I borrow your eyes for a bit?h and,
gThank you. That helped a lot.h
Then my heart warms, and somehow I feel very good.
If at all possible, of course I wish I could get an operation to restore my sight. So when someone says,
gIfm so glad that I got the operation. Being able to see is wonderful,h
I become jealous and frustrated.
Yet no amount of resentment would ever bring back my sight.
So I keep all the resentment buried deep down, smile, and say,
gCongratulations. Good for you.h
Then, you see, my heart is warmed and I feel great.
So, enough with being depressed and irritated, itfs back to choral practice for me.

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