We grow up with hope in our minds and love in our hearts. We grow up with a belief that this world is indeed a utopia. A utopia where people say what they want, we marry the person we love, where no one is bullied, you can wear what you want, people take care of you when you ask them to, and someone will say “I love you” back when you say it to them.
This gets completely shattered when you realise the world is not like this. All the hope and love you were born with lands in a heap of destruction. You reach a situation where you lose your faith in this world. You realize as you grow up, that in this world, the bad dominates.
I was diagnosed with a condition called Thyroid when I was 7 years old. My entire Thyroid gland began to disintegrate for which I had to take some medicines. Coincidentally, because of Thyroid I developed a disease called Vitiligo. In layman’s terms, it leads to a loss of melanin (the pigment through which you get the colour of your skin). I started developing white patches on my face which soon appeared on my legs, hands, stomach, knees and other ‘secretive’ parts of my body. When you’re 7 years old, you do not understand why your mother is crying so much, why your parents are so frustrated, why so many frequent ‘Havans’ and other rituals are being conducted in your home, why you are making regular trips to the doctors and why people on the road are looking at you weirdly. The same classmates who talked to me animatedly about varied things now refused to even touch me, because they thought what I had was contagious.
That kind of ostracizing creates a huge impact in your formative years. I felt like an outcast, a misfit. Later on, my friends became ‘normal’ with me after a few years. This was not because they accepted me for who I am but because the school conducted a special session for my batchmates and told them I was a ‘safe child’ to be with.
It has been 10 years now. I am in a much better state of acceptance than I was before. After so many medications ranging from Allopathic, Ayurvedic, Homeopathic and what not, I have happily given up the fight of ever getting my colour back, which has somehow made me stronger.
I always emphasize on the power of human mutual coexistence. Someone I know closely once looked closely at my marks and exclaimed, “Woah, I love the dual skin tone colour you have.” That seriously bewildered me. Here I was, loathing my problem for so many years and someone wanted to have it? I remember thinking to myself, “Either this guy is mad, or I am.” Before I had the time to process this, he pointed at my left foot and commented, “In fact, that patch actually looks like the Apple logo.” and started laughing and inspecting.
After denying it for a long time, I realized it actually did look like one. I started to make different things from my patches, like a man who is crouching, a white spot looking like a heart and the range of spots on my hand which look like majestic mountains on a clear ‘brown’ sky. You can also see a cute little ghost with his hands flapping around.
I hear so many stories about people who are stereotyped, discriminated against, hated upon and even killed because of something that has been biologically given to them, something that they can not change. The girl who is bald because she has cancer, the boy who cries a lot because he may be under depression and many such incomplete stories. Even my friend was called a ‘Bhengi’ for many years because he has a squint in his eye.
I feel bullying massages the ego of the person who is doing it because that person has a low self-esteem and low ego himself/herself. We need to tell people about how humans are not meant for judging each other but to help each other in the toughest times of their lives. So if you ever feel alone and miserable, talk to someone, anyone, anybody, even your dog. Stop filling this jar of regret and misery and pain which will overflow one day and then break, breaking you in the process.
Talk, don’t be quiet. There is so much waiting to be told.
Because if there is one thing I learned from having Vitiligo, it is that your body is a story waiting to be told. So, share it.