“And do you find it annoying when someone like me comes and disturbs you in your work?”
     The answer flashed. “Yes.” Then he smiled his one-way smile and I knew, without being sentimental or silly, that I was looking at one of the most beautiful men in the world.
     A first glimpse of him is shocking, because he is like a still photograph — as if all those pictures of him in magazines and newspapers have turned three-dimensional.
     Then you see the head twisted sideways into a slump, the torso shrunk inside the pale blue shirt, the wasted legs; you look at his eyes which can speak, still, and they are saying something huge and urgent — it is hard to tell what. But you are shaken because you have seen something you never thought could be seen.
Firdaus Kanga is guilty of having disturbed Hawking, as he has to use his machine every time he wants to convey something. Being a man who is paralysed in the whole body, except for a few working limbs, Hawking was visibly tired and irritated as it hinders the flow of communication. Kanga's guilt makes him ask the question if Hawking finds it annoying when people like Kanga barge into his privacy and ask questions, thereby disturbing his busy schedule. Hawking immediately responds with a yes, without taking time to type it out. It flashes on the screen with the computerised voice. But it only takes minutes for Kanga to realise that Hawking was being sarcastic, as he gives a wide grin. His smile was a one-way smile as his mouth was paralysed and his face shifted to one side when he tried to smile. It made him look as if he was the most beautiful man in the world, as he looked more innocent and childlike. The author is not being sentimental or silly, rather is giving a genuine compliment.
Stephen Hawking smiling
Kanga explains that at first glance, Hawking looks different from any other human being. So far, he had only seen Hawking in pictures and newspapers. But in reality too, he looks like a still photograph from a magazine. He looks as if his picture has been turned into three-dimensional. Although his face looks still, his smile could convey a variety of emotions. At one glance, he may look rigid, but when observed keenly, one can see Hawking's head twisted sideways into a slump, as his disease does not allow him to turn his face upright. He also had his lean body tucked into a pale blue shirt, spotting a simple look. His legs were wasted, meaning that they could not carry him anywhere as it was completely paralysed. But when his entire body seems lifeless, his eyes are full of life, as it conveys all emotions. They communicate a message that is huge and urgent, but no one seems to interpret it in a proper way. Amidst all these, the author is shaken by the wonder called Stephen Hawking, who is sitting right opposite him, with his eyes conveying a million secrets.
Meaning of difficult words:
GlimpseA momentary view
SentimentalPrompted by a feeling of sadness
Three dimensionalAppearing to have length, breadth and depth
SlumpFall heavily
TorsoThe part of the body that excludes head, limbs and legs
FlashAll of a sudden
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2008). Honeydew. A Visit to Cambridge - Firdaus Kanga (pp. 96-104). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.