Monday, September 26, 2011

Do naina, aur ek kahani

My first eye test happened when I was barely 10 years old, the reason behind which is subject to some debate. As far as I was concerned, I went to the eye doctor because I had a small cyst in my right eye. Many years later, the mother told me that my dance teacher had told my father to get my eyes checked, because apparently I was exhibiting signs of less-than-normal vision during classes. I remember howling after coming home post the eye-exam, and instantly picking up a book and shouting"Hey I can read just fine!"

My first pair of glasses was a quintessentially nerdy pair- big brown plastic frames, which covered my whole face in a sense. I loved that pair, and somehow believed that they were the coolest thing existing on the planet (once a nerd-at-heart, always a nerd-at-heart). I remember walking into school on the first day of 6th grade wearing them, nervous about what my friends would say. And I distinctly remember one girl saying "Really? You never had glasses before? I always thought you wore them!" I just had one of those faces I was told. I hated removing my glasses even for a few minutes, which I was subjected to often, being a dancer and having to perform on stage ever so often (and a mother who was baffled that her daughter was bespectacled).

I got contact lenses when I was 15. The first time I wore lenses, I kept thinking that they would fall off! Initially wearing them would be a herculean task (umm...not that they got any better, but I just got more used to the process). And for the first two years, I was very irregular with them. Contact lenses scored over glasses on some counts- you had a holistic vision, they didn't fog up when you got out of an air-conditioned car, and you could actually see the rain. Not to mention, the whole aesthetics of it. But you couldn't sleep with your contacts (without getting a headache that is), and god save you if you got something in your eye. Actually, my worst contact lens experience involved me cutting green chillies, washing my hands over and over again, and still having burning eyes when wearing the lenses hourssss later.
Bottom line: I was never much of a contact lens person. I never wore them unless absolutely necessary, and most certainly never while loitering around home. I was never the kind of girl who would balk at the idea of people seeing her with glasses.

So life continued, between the glasses and the lenses. Many people suggested laser eye surgery, and while the idea was very appealing, I never really put much thought into it. Primarily because I was always studying, I always had exams, and basically never had much time at my disposal to go through a surgery, and follow the myriad of precautions which I was told the surgery entails.
That was until a few months ago. After much pondering (and procrastinating) I finally got an appointment with an eye institute two weeks ago, just to see what the fuss was all about. After three hours of testing, and dilated pupils, the doctor told me that my eyes were perfect for the surgery- when would I like to have it? An appointment was scheduled for the week after, and the countdown began. I kept harping about my 'surgery', freaking out only hours before the event when I saw how nervous the parents were.

I wont go into the details of the actual surgery- which are actually imprinted in my brain for life- coz its difficult to put into words the intense fear, and nervousness I experienced for those 25 minutes (the most nerve-wracking time frame of my life). I was numb when I was taken out of the operation room, partly because of the fact that strange things had been done to my eyes- but more so because despite those strange things, my vision was perfect, albeit a tad hazy. It was like I was suddenly wearing a pair of dirty contact lenses. When the parents came to see me with solemn faces, and a pair of dark glasses, I was trembling when narrating what had happened inside that dreaded operation theatre, all the while saying "You know, I can see you both clearly". It was all very surreal- especially for someone whose longest time in a hospital has been the root canal the day after the 24th bday, and the cavity filling at age 10.

The day after the surgery, was the first time in 14 years that I reached for my glasses first thing in the morning, and realized that I no longer needed them. It was the first time that I woke up with clear vision. Surreal? Check.
No its not all hunky dory. The first week, I had to wear a pair of dark glasses 24/7- yes, even while sleeping, which was just the biggest pain e.v.e.r. Not to mention the endless eye drops I was (and still am) subjected to. And the fact that I can't wash my eyes/face, or that my vision is still stabilizing (I'm always nervous about less than perfect sight- aren't we all?!)

But it's still not sunk in that I don't have to wear glasses or lenses anymore. For the latter, I would just say "good riddance". I guess I will miss the former in a strange way. Glasses always worked to make me look more intelligent than I am (!) But more than that, it's like letting go of a part of my identity.

Thus, here goes, a pictorial ode to the tools of vision I was so dependent on for the past 14 years.

Through exams, dissertations, projects. Through performances and parties. In sadness and in joy, in sickness and in health. Good bye old friends. In a way befitting your place in my life, I will forever be grateful to you.

And finally, a few words from the song from which I lifted the title of this post. Perhaps these define the thin line between my old vision and my new vision best.
थोड़ी सी है जानी हुयी थोड़ी सी नयी।  
रुके आंसू वही पूरी हो गयी।
तो नयी
फिर भी हैं पुरानी।

दो नैना और एक कहानी

थोडा सा बादल
थोडा सा पानी
और एक कहानी