Idara- patches on my skin is a short story on more awareness for vitiligo!
I remember the day my world ended, I remember it as clear as day; Mom and I were sitting in the doctor’s office…She was talking to me but for the life of me I couldn’t hear what she was saying.
All I kept thinking was
Let me be wrong.
The spots that had appeared on the back of my hand could not be ignored.
As I looked at them they seemed to grow bigger and bigger, white against the dark brown until I had had enough and pulled my eyes away.
Vitiligo, I had spent sleepless nights on my phone, researching, hoping against all that I was just paranoid,that it was some sort of reaction, but the look in the doctor’s eyes as she came in told me that my fears had not been unfounded.
To my credit, I didn’t lose it there in the dermatologist’s office, I didn’t break down on the drive home,the test results tightly held in my fist listening to my mom say it wasn’t the end of the world.
I waited till I was in my room with its cheerful yellow paint that my dad and I had carefully chosen to celebrate getting my own room ( junior had turned ten the day before) waited till I stood in front of the mirror examining the white patches that were spreading around my eyes, my chest,stomach and legs.
I could see it.
My dreams crumbling, the dreams of strutting down the runway, posing in the latest fashion piece by a renowned designer, that dream had to go.
The tears started to fall blurring my image in the mirror..I could remember Dad and I putting heads together in the living room on those lazy Sunday afternoons, him with his camera, I, in one of mom’s old dresses, taking pictures.
“You’re going to be great” he would say. But it seemed tragedy went in three’s. My Dad dying in an automobile accident, us moving and now this. Even with my mom’s cheerful assurances I wasn’t moved.
Graduation from high school and my admission into the university came and went without much fanfare ,the picture of me staring at the camera with a twisted smile at the camera was hidden at the bottom of the drawer; you could clearly see that I was dying.
Out went my short sleeved t-shirts, short skirts, in came the heavy jackets, long trousers and lots of makeup.
I thought if I couldn’t see it,then it didn’t exist. If people couldn’t see it, then maybe I could be normal again.
The first year was the longest, if I wasn’t home or in class, I was in the library. Headphones firmly in place, ignoring the world.
“Ask Esther for her GST note?”
“Who’s Esther?” They’d lower their voices, thinking I couldn’t hear them,
“That girl with the patch-patch skin”
Patch-patch skin, they called me names behind my back and avoided sitting with me and if that wasn’t possible leaning as far away as possible.
I wanted to scream,
I have vitiligo,not Aids!.
Mom, not knowing what to do with me shipped me off to Grandma’s who also had vitiligo.
“Its not the end of the world.” she said her wrinkled face in a soft smile, I couldn’t tell her it was..she had seen her first signs of it when her husband had died 20 years into her marriage.. My life had ended before it even started..
No one wanted to take pictures of a girl with white spots spreading over her skin.
“Maybe you should try something else?” They’d offer with sympathetic smiles.
I hated them
I hated me.
The dark heavy cloud around me persisted till my second year.. Keeping potential friends at arms length until that very day
“Are you waiting to die?” David asked, his dark eyes bright.
“I don’t understand?” I stammered after my initial shock, David Obiora was known for being disturbingly direct,our parts crossed various times and I did my best to avoid him. Because we were so similar and yet…So different.
David with his right hand amputated at the wrist, me with vitiligo.
Similar because we both had something taken away and yet different because David was blazing down paths with his seemingly endless supply of unrestrained energy while I was…
“Is it terminal, the vitiligo?” He had asked in a low voice.
“Then why are you acting like this?”
“The world is moving on without you.” he’d walked away after that, leaving me with my thoughts.
Indeed it was, quickly, ruthlessly while I was clinging stubbornly to the past with both hands.
From that point I wanted to say the sun shone brighter from that day on, but no.
This is not a fairytale.
There were days when all I wanted to do was hide under a rock, away from all the pitying looks and rejections and I did. But I got back on my feet finding strength in the love and good intentions of those around me.
The patches on my skin slowed its rapid appearance at about a year ago but it stopped meaning so much to me with so many interests occupying my time. The movement for people with vitiligo, being a photographer for ‘Your Daddy’s Movies’ and most important of all being your mum.
Idara,I don’t know if you will encounter it, the vitiligo..that’s left to fate. But I’m here to show you the fullness of life you can have despite it.
I love, share your thoughts guys.