Swimming, “I see” people
To see. See by touching, smelling, imagining. See by listening, hearing. See swimming. Karim comes out of the pool and climbs the stairs accompanied by his mother, one of those strong beautiful women: he, fourteen years old, is taking part in the World Series of Para Swimming in Lignano (today he hit the Italian record in the 100 backstroke), and is a boy of those you would listen to for hours. Blind since birth, proud of his Egyptian name: “My name is Karim Gouda Said Hessan – he explains – and in Egypt the surname consists of the names of the father, grandfather and great-grandfather: but I am Italian, born and raised here in Italy. In Bologna”.
And Egypt, for you, what is it?
My origins, my father’s country and a place where I love to go. Indeed, I loved: because the wickedness of man has made it difficult even to visit a country so beautiful and full of history.
And the water, what is it for you?
Something I’ve always had a huge fear of, since I was a child: it was impossible to convince me to go into a swimming pool or take a bath by the sea.
And what happened then?
At the age of four I met an aquatic instructor who tried to approach swimming with his methods.
And did he succeed?
He managed to make me even more afraid. So I changed instructor, two years later I met the right person who put me in the water and made me make peace with this element. And it was he who proposed to me the first race, in 2015 in Varese: a very high time, but also a start. Then the Italian championships arrived and everything else, now I have fun.
How important is sport for you?
Swimming was and is something fundamental for me. The worst thing we can do as blind people is to stay at home, to close ourselves in our world of home-family-school: because by doing so we deny ourselves the possibility of relating to other people. Playing sports is fundamental but in general it is fundamental to do something: in addition to swimming I play the piano, thanks to these things I learned what it means to focus on a goal.
How many think like you?
Still too few: too many people are still firm in their belief that the blind person is not able to do. Instead the blind person simply does not see: but he can do, he can do so much, he can do what he wants. If he wants.
Stupid question: tomorrow comes the miraculous operation that allows you to return to see. Do it?
Serious answer: no.
Because this is me, this is my story: and I don’t feel the need to change to become another person, I wouldn’t accept it. I have learned to know, understand and feel even without seeing each other: and I am sure that I feel much more blind than I, of those who see well but do not go further.
And how are you with women?
Well: I’m living a story with Caterina, a relationship that has grown and become love.
Did they tell you it’s beautiful?
No, I understood it: immediately.
How important is your mother Lorenza?
Very, very important: it is the living example of how in life we should never give up, the example of how we should fight. Of course, sometimes it is heavy: but it can be heavy in a destructive and constructive way. And his being heavy is beautiful.