When I was about 4 years old, my parents noticed that there was something wrong in the way I looked at things – literally! They noticed that I would squint in order to focus, get really close to the TV, have my nose pressed against the paper when I would draw and other such symptoms that were alarming enough. I on the other hand was oblivious to the fact that there was something wrong with my eyes. Something severely wrong!
Then came the visit to the doctor. Aai-Baba took me to one of the best ophthalmologists – Dr. Prabhudesai. He popped me into the chair, asked me to cover my left eye and recognize the objects that I saw on the screen with my right eye. One by one I went through the list of objects that kept reducing in size. But I could see them all just fine – just a minor issue seeing the last line, but then again it was so tiny! Anyone would face an issue!! When he said we are halfway through, I was almost dancing in my mind. Halfway there and nothing majorly wrong. Aai-Baba were probably freaking out for no reason.
Then I covered my right eye to repeat the same exercise with the left one. As soon as I did that, the real horror struck! Everything should have looked just the same. Everything should have looked crystal clear. But what I was seeing was much worse. It seemed as if I was looking at things through a steamy glass. Everything was so blurry and foggy. I tried to adjust the distance like I did at home but the doctor wouldn’t let me. I tried to look for Aai, to tell her I can’t see anything. That’s when the doctor planted the black glasses on my nose. And the world looked clearer again. With a few adjustments, we had found the right power. Walking out of the doctor’s clinic I was so happy. I would be wearing a chashma! Just like all the important people in the movies do!! I was going to look all smart and pretty and important! I simply couldn’t wait for my glasses to be ready.
When the actual chashma came, is when horror struck again! The chashma didn’t look like the one Baba wore, or all the pretty actresses wore. On the contrary, it was very heavy with a high powered lens (equivalent of a magnifying glass) on the left and on the right it had a “milky” glass (a translucent glass that would block the vision of the functional eye)!! When I looked at Aai all teary eyed, she explained that my left eye is lazy so it needs to exercise and my right eye needs rest. All my dreams were shattered in that one moment. I was too young to understand and accept it!
You can imagine school was not fun after that. I was teased, laughed at, made fun of and asked all types of questions. Chashma was not so fun anymore. It made me look ugly and I was conscious of my appearance at an age way younger than most girls usually are.
After 23 years of wearing a chashma, I have embraced it as a natural extension of my body. I no more shy away from it or the questions it still attracts. I love it and the way I look when I wear it (took me a couple of years to get here).
But a visit to the doctor still scares me! I still need my Aai when I go there. I guess some things never change (just like my lazy left eye and my magnifying glass quality chashma)!!