Tuesday, October 5, 2010
4th October 2010, 5:45 PM
The Way I See It.
Tomorrow, I will be twenty-seven years old. I already know what my birthday present will be - mother forgets that I have sensitive ears. You don't need to score very high in your SATs to know that I still live with my parents. Father calls it "unnatural", at which mother shushes him. Father doesn't really talk much, and if ever, only to complain about the T.V. not working or the salty food. I think he secretly blames himself for my condition, and has ever since, receded into a cocoon-like shell of solitude. I feel sad thinking of him - sad and angry.
I cannot see. The medical books call it Retinitis Pigmentosa, which when translated from their medical gibberish, means "incurable". It's funny how doctors invent fancy words for "symptoms" that are not as "ornamental". They might as well be writers! "It" is genetic, they say. I call the disease "It", because I’d rather not hear the name. It's somewhat a childish fantasy, like in the Harry Potter books, where they don't take you-know-who's name, thinking by doing so, he could be avoided. It's become somewhat of a ritual now, and even my parents avoid using "the word", as they refer to it. You must wonder, how the heavens can a blind person have read Harry Potter? Well, I haven't. Not consciously. It was one of those days when mother felt it necessary for her to be a part of my education, given the circumstances, and make it all the more "fun" for me, as she used to call the reading sessions. "A chapter a day", was her motto. "Ignore her", was mine.
Occasionally, some old-county relative drops by en route, to pamper me with thoughts of positivity and happiness. It angers me, this "special attention". I haven't even seen half of them! "Get real!", I want to scream, pushing aside the thoughts that they want to plant inside my head. "Screw 'em!", a part of my mind says. "fuck 'em!", says the other.
Yesterday, mother read to me an article that came in the morning paper. Having Hope and Faith, went the words. Strangely, it made me cry. Only occasionally, to my own whim, I pick up a book to while away the time. We have an entire library in our house. Once, it was Charles Dickens, and I wouldn't relieve mother till she completed the entire book! Another time, it was John Keats, and I had to force her to read me a verse. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever, its loveliness increases..." and she stopped. I knew what she was thinking - the session ended there.
At an age when I could, I refused to attend blind school. Aunt Cece called it "The Institution for Upliftment of The Physically Challenged". I refused, still. It took 4 years and several warnings from father to "convince" me. A week later, I was home again. My anger was my reason.
Having nothing else to do but play with the pictures in my head, those that were when I still could see, I am often filled with a kind of molten anger, one that suddenly bursts out, surprising even me.
I think of strange things. God, religion, medicine, dreams...I think of them all. But most of the time, I think of love. In many ways, I have experienced it. The first time I kissed a girl was back in the days when the roses were still red. "Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath, And so live ever or else swoon to death." Quoted I, and leaned on to kiss her. I try to remember how she looked, my Grace.
If a shrink were to ask me, "Danny, which emotion do you most often experience?", it would have to be anger. Anger at God - wherever he is supposed to be - to have taken away my sight. Anger at the world, for how dare it remain pretty and attractive even after I could not see it? At my mother - how could she love me so much?
On Sundays, they talk about destiny and faith at the church. I attend, because I like to sit amongst people. For a moment, all thoughts vanish and my anger melts.
Dr. Tess once asked me how I felt the day I lost my vision completely. I witfully remarked, that I never lost my vision, only my sight. Dr. Tess was a nice lady. She had a sweet voice, and always wore Chanel. Had she been more persistent that day, I would have told her, that I had never really felt anything - just a blanket of darkness descend over my eyes, and a stinging pain over my heart.
A stranger on a bus once asked me why I was so mad all the time. “It gives me hope", I said. "How?"
"Because if love can give me, with all my anger, a second chance, then so can life."
Tomorrow is my twenty-seventh birthday, and in the other room, I can hear mother whispering to aunt Cece about a surprise party. I stand up from my chair and turn around. There is a table about 2 metres away. I take 10 steps, and suddenly stumble on what feels like a table leg. Hitting the carpet, I groan. From the other room, I hear a phone slam as mother's footsteps approach swiftly.
"I'm alright ,Ma. Nothing serious", I smirk.
"Daniel McQuillen! How dare you scare me like that!" she says, her voice hinting at anger.
I smile. If love can give me a second chance, then so can life.