It has been a year and a half since I last saw the sun. The overwhelming nostalgia for the light struck me again this morning as the warm rays of sun teasingly kissed my cheeks. I summoned all my mental toughness and inner strength to hold back the tears. That heavy lump in my throat is back. A deafeningly loud voice from inside incessantly urges me as I walk towards the bus stop: “Don’t you dare cry, Budour. Just don’t!” That heavy lump in the throat is back and is now splattered with my detained tears. The suffocating feeling of loneliness is back, too. Only a certain someone’s hand could erase the squeezing loneliness and darkness, but he is out of reach and his hand is too far away.
“Don’t you dare cry, Budour” kept ringing in my ears as drops of salty water trickled from my eyes and soaked the frame of my sunglasses.
* * * *
I was with my father when the ophthalmologist performed the dreaded finger-counting test on me. I have always despised this test and it has always been one of the reasons I hated doctor visits so violently. I particularly did not like to perform these tests in front of my parents. I could hear their tortured sighs when I’d make a mistake. I would automatically heave a sigh of relief when I’d get the right answer. That relief was for my parents’ sake more than anything else. In the last finger-counting test I did, I did not get any right answer, for I could not see the doctor’s fingers at all. As I was leaving the hospital with my father, clasping his sweat-drenched hand, I could feel his scorching tears. For all my trenchant, uncompromising opposition to patriarchy in all its forms; and for all my unwavering rejection of all the readily-accepted stereotypes about manhood, I have not managed to get over them completely yet. I cannot handle seeing – or listening to – my father cry. I summoned all my mental toughness and inner strength to hold back my own tears. A deafeningly loud voice from inside urged me as I clutched my father’s arm: “Don’t you dare cry, Budour! Just don’t!” That heavy lump in the throat, splattered with my detained tears, was there. It almost suffocated me. I reacted by telling my father silly jokes, by laughing away the tears, and by appearing incredibly calm, cool and collected. Crying is a privilege I am only allowed to use when I am on my own, I said to myself, and there is always a silver lining. This would be my last finger-counting test ever.
* * * *
It has been a year and half since I lost my sight completely. It has been six months since I was told by doctors that I have no hope of getting it back. This topic remains somewhat of a taboo for me. There are very few people whom I trust enough to talk about it.
Today, though, I finally decided to make this confession in public because I am tired of concealing.
I am tired of smiling away the tears in order to preserve the facade of mental toughness.
I am tired of putting up with chronic eye pain silently so as not to disturb my loved ones.
I am tired of appearing like the epitome of strength when there is a very fragile part inside me, a part which I have always strived to hide and suppress.
I am tired of people singing my praise for being “determined” and for “overcoming my disability.
I am tired of constantly speaking about the importance of willpower and how it is all about the mind, not the eyes.
I am tired of all the clichés I have been repeating since the age of six. There used to be a time when repeating these clichés was not excruciating. It was back when I could still distinguish faces, places and colours. I could only see a little, but little things mean a lot, as Cliff Richard would tell you.
I am tired of not being able to read all the books I want to read because they are not available in Braille versions.
I am tired of being a theme of inspirational documentaries.
I am tired of being treated, at times, like a creature from outer space when I get on the bus holding my cane.
I am tired of people’s pity just as much as I am tired of people’s excessive and patronising admiration, admiration that I do not think I deserve.
I am tired of able-ist language and of having to explain over and over again that using the word “blind” as a derogatory term is offensive and disrespectful.
I am tired of people who think the rights of disabled persons to accessible services and the full respect of society is post-modern luxury rather than a basic right.
I am tired of people who think a blind person cannot hear or walk alone. I am tired of those who believe that people with disability cannot lead an independent life.
I am tired of being nice to people who insult me with their remarks because I know they did not have an intention to hurt. Why should
I have to swallow their insults silently and move on as if nothing had happened?
I am tired of a litany of other things, but above all, I am tired of darkness and I want to say it out loud once and for all.
Yes, I am tired of darkness. Darkness is mentally and physically exhausting.
I miss colours, especially red and green.
I miss my father’s beautiful eyes.
I miss seeing the sea in acre for smelling it. Hearing the sounds of the waves is just not enough.
I miss seeing football matches, for listening to the commentary is just not enough.
I miss seeing Richard Gasquet’s gorgeous backhand, for hearing the quasi-musical sound it makes when he strikes it cleanly is not enough.
And, above all, I miss sunshine.
* * * *
By writing this post, I do not seek to draw readers’ sympathy. I wrote this to express feelings I have never had the courage and resolve to put into words. Thus I finally broke a major taboo and a huge psychological barrier. It is an historic period of revolutions in our region, and this post is my very own revolution against my own fears, prejudices and silence.
PS: The author of this post remembers that a certain someone promised to allow her to see sunshine in his eyes. He managed to do so, but it was short-lived and painfully brief, like all beautiful things in life.
P.P.S: My thoughts yearn for Freedom to all prisoners, particularly prisoners of conscience, languishing in the dark dungeons of oppression and the cold cells of injustice. Not only are they deprived of the sun’s gleam, they are also deprived of its warmth. The privileged masses outside the prison walls cannot begin to understand their feelings.