Living with Vitiligo
One white spot, that's how it started.
Around 8:30 PM on a September night, I noticed a small round white spot on my feet, staring back at me as I kept examining it. After I told my father about it, he simply laughed my suspicions off. My mother kept insisting that I should consult a doctor. Two more spots within a few weeks, we went to a doctor who confirmed that the biggest nightmare for my family had come true – I had vitiligo.
I had seen vitiligo patients in the past. As a child, I'd stare at them and ask my mother about their condition. No matter how curious my childish gazes might've been, I later realised how uncomfortable I made them feel. Years later, when my neighbouring kids would stare at my foot covered in vitiligo spots and ask, "Why is your foot like this?" I'd smile it off hastily and try to come up with a quirky answer to make them laugh.
The initial few months were filled with panic. I'd look at my distressed parents trying to find a cure. While part of me tried to be strong, another part couldn't help but think it was karma getting back at me for my past sins. My desperate father tried everything: homoeopathy, allopathy, and Ayurveda. I was even taken to a local kobiraj who told me not to include milk or eggs in my diet because it being white would trigger the disease. I worked through all these lunacies for I'd see my father, who's always been the strongest personality in my life, become vulnerable and prepared to take any measure to "save" his son.
I mention "save" because later on, I realised that I didn't need saving. I needed acceptance. I needed the people around me to accept my condition as a part of me. Every time my father would come to my room to chat, he'd listen to my stories while staring at my feet, examining them for any improvements. I knew he meant well but maybe I needed him to do the exact opposite – to stop ogling them or examine them. Maybe all I needed was for the people around me to continue being how they were before my melanocytes went dysfunctional.
Back then, someone told me, "It's just something you have. It's like how I have curly hair. It's just a feature." That small gesture of kindness meant the world to me. I learned how to live with the questions, with the raised eyebrows and the stares. I learned to laugh when my friends called me a zebra. I learned to accept it when my parents decided to hide my condition from my relatives. And I learned to wear socks, everywhere.
Except for the beach. Years later, I've now learned how to walk barefoot on the beach while the entirety of Kolatoli stares at my legs. While the entire time I was expecting the world to accept me, I should've been the one accepting myself in the first place.
Remind Ifti to be quieter at [email protected]