It was late, maybe 3 am. Tim was still working at his desk, but the project was almost done now. The keyboard clicked, the screen cast a greenish light on his intense features, the mouse rolled slightly under his long, sensitive fingers. As the digital figures on the clock clicked over to “4.00”, Tim wrapped it up. The short film he’d made was done, uploaded. People he knew thought that making a cartoon was easy, but this had taken him weeks, more than a month. Good animation was labour-intensive, and Tim had a streak of perfectionism.
He sent a quick link by email to his close-contacts list, alerting them to the cartoon on the competition site. “Please vote for me!” he asked them. He needed work, free-lancing was a tough gig. If his cartoon could win this competition it would give him a lot of exposure.
Tim walked out to the kitchen without switching on any room lights. In the glow from the computer screen he picked out an apple from the bowl on the counter and munched. He couldn’t remember when he’d last eaten. Lunchtime? He went back to the screen and couldn’t resist opening the animation file one more time. Ok, ok, he told himself, it’s been uploaded, too late for any changes now. But like any creator with his favourite baby, Tim just wanted to watch – one more time. He was proud of his work.
The cartoon opened on a train platform. Two girls stood waiting for a train, one wearing a niqab over her face. She consulted a timetable on the wall, but seemed to find it inexplicable. She turned to the other girl and politely asked for her help. She was ignored. Irritated, she took the other to task: “you could be polite enough to answer me!” The second girl notices her agitated companion, angry eyes above her niqab. She uses an electronic speech aid to say that she’s deaf. Usually she would read lips, but in this case…The story develops as the two girls try to communicate, the train drowns the speech aid, the battery dies, they try hand signals…The cartoon is called “A Failure to Communicate.” Yes, Tim was proud of it – of the animation, and the storyline. He had high hopes.
Two weeks later he was at the big hotel downtown with two of his friends. They were there for the prize announcement in the animation competition. The noise levels in the bland hotel ballroom were high, and Tim couldn’t follow what was going on. It can be like that for deaf people in a crowd. Suddenly, his friends seemed to get excited – what had he missed? A camera flash bulb went off close to his face and he flinched. There was shouting ‘ “you’ve won! you’ve won!” But Tim couldn’t hear.