VITILIGO AND DAD…

My Papa has Vitiligo and he’s carrying it for the past 45 years of his life.

He was a normal kid, like you and me with a good brown skin tone, good eyes, and volume hair.

I remember my Dadu (grandfather) telling me how a small cut and wrong treatment had affected him.

He was 8 or 9 years when he fell from the cycle and got a scar, too deep to have peeled off his brown epidermis and clearly showing the whitish part of the skin.
We all get cuts so deep and it recovers, it takes time, but it does heal.
My dad would have been fine too, if not for an over-smart family doctor who suggested having some medicines which would be anti-vitiligo.

You believe your family doctor.
My grandparents did too.

In a month's time, that small cut did heal but what was left behind with my dad was the visibility of white skin patches on various areas of the leg, feet, and stomach.
My grandparents were petrified and rushed him to the same doctor, wherein he declared that he’s got vitiligo.
They took him to other doctors soon after and then got to know that he was on medicines that lead him to this condition.

Can you believe it?
It is like calling home a problem with band-baaja-baarat…

My dad’s childhood went for a toss.
His friends didn’t accept him.
Teachers punished him unnecessarily.
He was kept out of the class most of the time.

I remember my Dadu telling me these and trying hard to hide his tears.

Kids of his age stopped sitting next to him because their parents apparently had told them that it is communicable.
He was bullied and termed a BHOOT (ghost).
He was the odd one out.
He was rather treated as an untouchable.

Gradually my dad accepted his deformity and then life had become simpler for him.
His 2 best friends, who still are his best friends fought the world had anybody eyed my dad.

My dad then turned 19.
He fell in love.
My mom, oh my… she’s the prettiest woman I’ve ever seen in life, luckily and fortunately loved him back.
Probably this is what true love is, not judging, not discriminating… Just loving.

But yeah, if there’s no drama, is that even a real Indian Love Story???

Obviously, my mom’s family had issues because my dad looked odd and my mom was beautiful and fair.
But my mom was too one hell of a stubborn and resilient woman to have married my Dad with whatever came their way.
Oh, not to forget, several pundits and babas were consulted too to put some sense in her, but yeah, nothing good came out.

A new marriage and my dad somehow again wanted to look normal and handsome, like every young man.
He however was a fan of Amitabh Bachhan and styled his hair like him.

And a doctor showed him hope too.
This time it was injections instead of pills.
His brown color was coming back, slowly covering up the discolored patches of his skin.

Hold on… it’s not a piece of very good news.
His liver had started to get affected due to strong doses and finally he was left with 1 single choice-
Full brown skin with a few months to live
OR
Permanent discoloration and a forever healthy life

My Dadu told me that my Mom had cried her lungs out and begged Dad to stop wanting to be like others.
She loved him and that was all that mattered.
Dad stopped seeing the doctor and in a span of 5months, his brown color had just gone, like vanished literally, with a snap!

Mmmmm…
Do you think it’s over???
Nopes!!!
It began again when I started going to school and my fellow friends thought my Dad was scary.
I remember my bench partner questioning me about Dad because her mother happened to be very curious about it.

I wept in front of my Mom and she explained that my Dad is a Superhero and that’s why he looked different.

I was convinced.
I believed that.
I grew older.
I learned and researched about Vitiligo.

I then understood why my Dad always got angry when I applied any random cosmetics or cream.
He was scared for me and was being protective in all possible ways.

But there was one particular time, I remember, when he broke down for real.
It was when the mother of the guy whom I had apparently fallen in love with, asked him to break up with me because she thought her future grandkids would be born like my dad.

And yes, it was all…
I didn’t find it important to explain or even bother to put my part…
It was over!

WHY DID I WRITE ALL OF THIS?

Because there are a lot of basic teachings that parents need to give to their kids.
Because a little learning is a dangerous thing.
Because parents need to stop telling their kids to stay away from differently looking or differently-abled kids.
Because parents need to filter out the discussions in front of their kids.

ONE WRONG TEACHING AND YOUR KID WOULD END UP ACCIDENTALLY DAMAGING SOME OTHER KID’S FUTURE AND MENTAL HEALTH.

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Varsha Karmakar

“Perhaps I write for no one, Perhaps I write for the same person”- Margaret Atwood.