William Shakespeare has rightly said that eyes are windows to your soul. We all communicate a wide range of emotions from discomfort to surprise to joy to anger through them. Almost, all of you, at some particular period of time, must have boasted about your curly black, brown, piercing eyes but the mere mention of eyes makes me uneasy. Wondering Why?
I was born on a gloomy day in the dark period of 90's. I am told, when I was born, there were no celebrations at home, sweets were not distributed, people avoided kissing my bubbly cheeks; my Mouj (grandma) says people thought that I am some odd and eccentric creature which has descended on the planet. My close ones abandoned me, left me at the mercy of my fate and cursed my stars for being squint.
Some time back, a distant relative, a mother of three girls made me cry. She looked at me as If I was an untouchable. "No parent wants to marry their daughter to a squint eyed boy." She declared. For her, I was not charming, dashing as these words had worldly meanings in her dictionary. I too have a heart and I too get hurt. I also have feelings and emotions. Why our society which boasts and sermons about ethics and values every now and then laughs at us.
Few years back, I was writing a story on my laptop at this particular news organization when two girls of my age, were poking fun at the way I was looking at the screen. I was no alien or was I? Am I the mortal of lesser God? Many think that I am visually impaired but I believe I am not. Benevolent Almighty has been kind enough to equip me with different skills and talents. I dream like all of you and I weave novel ideas. I am a day dreamer. Every creature of Almighty is valuable and special. Being squint is not a weakness.
Normally two eyes point at the same direction but squint occurs when two eyes are misaligned. I am suffering from the condition called strabismus in medical lingo, an incorrect imbalance of the eye muscles. The eye converges and diverges, preventing the eyes from working properly together.
Am I the odd one out? If we criticize someone's body structure, it is tantamount to criticize the Creator's Creation. I could never know my fault. From school, college and now to university, I get cold treatment. Trendy teens mostly avoid me. Because they believe I can't gel well with them since my one eye-ball is pointed towards extreme right. My Retina can't frame the image properly.
I always toss this question to myself that does this "eye issue" qualify you not to deem fit in this society. Is this discrimination and humiliation at the hands of physically fit souls, written in my fate? People mocked me, laughed at me even teased me but I pursed my lips every time, listened to all of them patiently and cried in isolation, helplessly. Reason they think: All is not well with me.
It hurts like hell when opposite gender made fun of me due to my shy and introvert nature; I could not confront and make them understand. I always blamed myself for the fault which I never committed. People belittled me for this reason!
My very own made me believe that I am socially awkward? Few years back in school, when I could not decipher what exactly is written on the black board, I asked my teacher to repeat it to me. He was too rude to respond, "Get lost! I can't dictate it to everyone individually, Mein kissi ka nokar houn kya?"
The other day, I was kicked out of my examination hall by this 'teacher' when I was not able to see clearly what is written on the paper as we were asked to sit under the scorching sun. I could not stop my constant blinking due to reflection. My eyes were aching, I was finding a way to ask my teacher to sit under the shade when (without asking the reason of my uneasiness) he thrashed and dragged me out in front of posse of students. Later when I revealed the reason, he was ashamed and apologized but the damage could not be undone.
There were times when someone suggested me to put Spectacles to feel 'comfortable'. I acted upon the suggestions but this is how my own Kashmiri brethren reacted!
"Kyasa hey, az kath sa paeth gaagal, zabardas." (Hey there, what is up with those goggles? You look dashing.)
People can go to any extreme to belittle you, ridicule you to draw a sadistic pleasure. We are hypocrites and sadists. I was very much depressed by this malady. I searched for the best ophthalmologist and finally landed up in Amritsar. The remarks of this senior eye specialist came as a shocker after the treatment, "I am sorry beta. Your vision can't be retrieved. It was possible till the age of 7 only."It was akin to doomsday. Hopeless, I came back, started to hate my own being. Distressed, I went to a social scientist for counseling sessions, he suggested me to stay calm, cool, and contended.
Calling people by various names does not make one cool. Almighty is watching our actions and we have to pay for it in the life hereafter. Despite being studious and meritorious, nobody ever realized my true potential. Nobody asked for where I can excel? Where I am best at?
We all know the contributions of Stephen Hawkings, Nicholas Vujicic, John Milton, Hellen Keller, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Beethoven, Christopher Reeve and hundreds of other s who are the unsung heroes of all times. They had a physical disability. But they decided to set Thames on fire and succeeded in it. We all must look up to people like them who, braving odds, keep walking to strive for the path of excellence.
(The author is pursuing his Post-graduation from the department of Media Education and Research Centre, University of Kashmir.)