– Shana Susan Ninan
To wake up each day and not being able to see your face in the mirror. From a world of darkness and silence, Helen Keller carved out an illuminated life for herself and those around her. Noted by Mark Twain as “the most remarkable woman he ever met”, this miracle worker taught herself to live in a world of sight and sound, not withstanding her handicaps.
George Sullivan’s Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures is a photo-book about the life and times of Helen Keller. Starting off with a foreword from Keller’s great grand niece, Keller Johnson Thompson, the book takes you through Keller’s childhood, life with tutor-friend Annie Sullivan, days in the vaudeville circuit, and later on, as a goodwill ambassador.
All the photos are black and white, retaining its original charm and finesse. There’s one of her in a sari and Indian jewellery, when she visited india in 1955, one with Jawaharlal Nehru, too. If one isn’t familiar with Helen Keller, you couldn’t make out that she’s blind, from the photos alone!
There’s this spectacular photo of the water pump at her cottage – Annie Sullivan had let Keller run her fingers under the water pump, and when she felt the cool waters comfort her, Sullivan spelt out w-a-t-e-r for her. A page from Keller’s book shows how she learnt to write by keeping the pencil close to a ruler on the line.
Keller could “read” a person’s words by keeping her fingers on his or her nose, lips and larynx. Even more interesting is how she “listened” to music by placing her fingers on a violin or an organ and felt the vibrations! Amazing. The pages are also numbered in Braille script, but not raised. The cover is excellent, with a shot of Keller’s eyes, in a violet shade.