Imagine being visually impaired… how difficult it would be to do day-to-day errands, walk, write or do just about anything. Imagine playing a musical instrument and that too without any prior knowledge.
It seems like a task.
Well, not for the band members of LAD (Light after Dark). Four visually impaired young boys and their mentor who formed the band and whose performance is a treat, amazing and inspirational. Their renditions are just as good as any bands performing live on a stage. Their challenges are forgotten, their music takes over.
Picture credit: The BetterDayz facebook page
Their mentor/teacher and inspiration
Zawma Sailo who plays the guitar and keyboard joined Jyoti Sroat School,Bethany Society to teach the physically challenged children music in the year 2007. The school band consisted of several students learning music despite their disabilities. He took notice of few boys who had good listening skills or as he mentioned “good ears for music” and guided them to brush their skills leading to the formation of the band LAD (Light After Dark). The band name is credited to Zawma’s wife giving meaning to the purpose of the band – to bring light and joy, despite their disabilities of being in the dark.
Four humble boys interacted with much excitement to know that they were being interviewed by TNT – The Northeast Today. They shared their experiences, struggles, stories and even performed to give an insight of their beautiful souls and journey.
On Bass Guitar
Dilbertstar Lyngdoh (19) plays the bass guitar in the band. His love for music began listening to old Hindi numbers like Kishore Kumar while in the village and transitioning to other genres of music. ‘Bullet for my valentine‘ is his current favourite. He would sing. And not until he joined Bethany Society learning to play the acoustic guitar from seniors. He joined the school band in 2013 as a bassist and not only learnt about the instrument but realized how different it was from an acoustic guitar. His fingers hurt a lot at first due to the thick strings and he’d miss on chord frets cause of spacing. It took him a long time to be accustomed to it and get in tune. He says he is not perfect and hopes to learn it better in days to come.
He is thankful to God to be able to see partially and therefore manage on his own and also thankful to the school for building his confidence and building his personality. He plans to study for civil exams.
Hilter Khongpai (21) from Pynursla plays the drums. He learned how to play drums with cans, wood and other material at first and realized his friends enjoyed his beats. When he actually played a drum set, he made a lot of mistakes and to date he finds it difficult to play the drums on a new set, until he has a sense of its placement. He practices several times before a performance to be aware of the arrangements.
Tired of being a burden to his family and society he joined Jyoti Sroat School and since then there has been no looking back. He learnt the basics of language, manners, confidence and much more. Today music is a way of life for him.
On Rhythm Guitar
Remiki Pajuh (23) from Jaintia Hills holds on to his guitar with pride. Self-taught, he has been playing it for 7-8 years now. He knew nothing of music earlier while at the village, but always longed to learn the guitar and asked for help. To his dismay he was mocked at for dreaming to achieve something even sighted people found difficult to learn. He did not give up and pursued his dreams by joining Jyoti Sroat School, Bethany Society School.
He studied at Bethany Society from Nursery to Class 12, never focusing on his disability. Now at college he feels left out. He is in his final year of Bachelor of Arts.
Wanlamphrang Nongklhaw (25) from Shillong was a drummer with latent talent for singing. He always loved singing and listened to Backstreet Boys. He is spoilt for choice now and claims Linkin Park gives him his rush.His late father taught him to appreciate the little ways of life and pushed him to be a better person. This school helped him be that. While most vocalist read their lyrics, Wanlamphrang feels the words in braille to sing.
Zawma says that what he liked best about the boys is that all they cared about was enjoying the music. They mostly play for charities and events where they get invited. They recently competed in a band competition going up to the finals but losing to low votes on the final day. They plan to try again and if luck favours them and a sponsor comes their way, look forward to releasing an album some day.
Till then they keep playing to light up the world in ways only they can.
(by Nocy Rangsa Marak)