I was very young, I don’t even remember how old, when I got diagnosed with vitiligo. It is basically a condition wherein there is a deficiency of the color pigment of the skin (melanin) in some areas of the body resulting in white blotches. It obviously is visually absurd. At a young age, almost a bordering pre-teen, the societal idea of visual acceptance was unfortunately ingrained in my brain. And it was highly upsetting. It started off with a small spot on the nape of my neck and no sooner than later I walked with white wide blotches surrounding my eyes, cheeks and lips; loss of color on my palms, knees, ankles and insteps of my legs highly evident.
It didn’t hurt physically. I mean it was just skin with a different color than usual. However, I had to go through a series of doctors and medications, one after the other, until I settled with one homeopathic friendly doctor whose medicine worked wonders. I had to follow loads of restrictions, from bakery delicacies (be it a biscuit or pastry) to packages having preservatives (be it ketchup or a bag of chips).
This whole process of skimming through doctors and other “mediums” has just been super entertaining. Talking to doctors is totally fine but when the influence of those around you, drives you to explore “other avenues”, then comes that moment when you feel like either laughing (assuming that they are kidding) or running away from their stupidity afraid of the risk of contagion. To put it simply, my mother and I graciously received numerous amount of possible cures to my skin condition. Some of them consisted of not eating any white things (because apparently that somehow stops my melanin from reducing more), applying the urinal extract of a cow on my affected areas (because, well obviously, duh) and last (but definitely not the least) going to a spiritual medium. Out of these, guess what we tried?
It was one of those days when I was felt sick and tired of those looks of sympathy. It made my feel angry at everyone, myself and my skin. A relative of mine really wanted us to try something bizarre. and I couldn’t believe we were going for it. You know usually I am super interested when it comes to the whole cosmic world and everything, but I thought, it was incredibly absurd to think that a woman, being a medium, would call upon some ancient spirit, to figure out the cause of my skin condition. It was extraordinary, to say the least. The woman’s voice changed to that of a male’s and started talking vaguely about the cause being rooted in my ancestry. It ended with her tying a black thread with a stone around my neck, believing that the stone will absorb all the negative elements. What an amusing day.
After trying out loads of different medications, we finally settled on a sane homeopathic doctor. Apart from sweet tablets, there was this other huge element in my treatment – exposure to UV rays. Initially I was instructed to sit under the sun at noon and expose my affected areas at a particular angle to sunlight. I can’t even begin to describe how it was. My mother and I used to climb up to the terrace, sit under the scorching heat in the late afternoon, rubbing icky coconut oil on the affected areas and playing songs on my mother’s tiny phone to distract ourselves from the exhaustion that we felt.
I can never be thankful enough to my mother. I just don’t know where to begin. It is not possible to describe how she has been there for me, suffered with me, handled my tantrums and loved me. Indeed an incredible woman I can’t be grateful enough for.
If anyone is wondering how I’m doing currently, I am very well actually. Some of my vitiligo can be seen on my lips and insteps of my leg, but other than that, I have grown. Not only physically or biologically but also mentally and emotionally. Although I often find myself chewing my lip, sub-consciously trying to hide the whiteness on it, I now understand appearance is not what truly matters. What matters is what you have been through, what you have learnt. Beauty lies not in appearance. Contradicting the apparent societal notion of beauty being superficial and visual, I believe that beauty is not what you look like. It is what you are.