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Five Fingers

December 31st, 2007 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
  "How many fingers am I holding?" he asked peevishly. He waved his hand madly in the air as if doing so would make his hand more visible.

  In broad daylight, it was easy to see that he held up all five fingers; whether he held them intentionally or he simply waved his entire hand carelessly, it was not clear. It did not matter what answer was given or if any was given to him at all. If I suggested five, he would merely insist the thumb was not a finger; if I suggested four, he would say otherwise. If I did not answer or I answered wrong, I'd just be blind.

  Sometimes people forget that I was once able to see just as well as any of them. When much younger and not ruined by misadvice and overwork, not being able to see was unheard of; it was inconceivable. Warned as we were, told to be on the watch for any signs of blur or fatigue, none of us could imagine the seemingly distant notion actually becoming reality. Seeing was a divine right, an ability taken for granted, an element within life itself. Impossible, it seemed, to lose this ability, for to lose this was to lose the purpose to living. Considering all we knew, everything we did, seeing had always been a factor. Spending one's life in darkness was not possible. Such warnings must have been lies, and in a way, they were. The world never darkened; it was never pitchblack. It was just blurred.

  Still, not even as young children would we go as far as to completely ignore this. Always the possibility remained in the back of the mind. Yet, little would one realize that no one could be trusted to recommend the right choices. At the slightest sign of eye strain, perhaps from one night's too much reading, a pair of glasses seemed the best fix. I was happy; I could see. My family was happy for I was happy. The doctors were happy. Though I felt dizzy at first, I ignored it. Though it seemed forced and unnatural, I ignored it. Though after each pair my eyes grew worse, I ignored it. In vain, I abandoned everything I did, anything I could, to reduce the strain on my eyes. Again and again, I was told that glasses would eventually cure my problem. But now I look at my own hand and can barely focus on a mere fingertip, let alone the entire hand. Did all this come from one night's reading?

  Some say they understand the pain of myopia or so they think; it's just not possible to imagine myopia or ruined vision, unless you yourself suffer from it.  It is insulting when one offers to help me walk up a flight of stairs or navigate through my own neighborhood (though he himself may not know it).  Bad as my vision might be, I am by far not helpless. I may have trouble seeing, but I can most definitely walk. My vision may be blurred, but my memory remains sharp. And even with blurred vision, I can see well enough to make my way around; I can certainly see you. There are even stranger moments, when one would be but a few meters away and attempt to steal, freezing in hopes that I could not see them. Blurry as my vision may be however, it is hard not to notice a large huddled figure that wasn't there but a moment ago. Those who suffer myopia seem to invoke the ignorance of those around them. Just the mere thought of nearsightedness seems to imply a pitchblack world or imminent darkness, however far from the truth that may be.

  But then again, perhaps ignorance comes from both ends. Perhaps there is indeed a hint of helplessness. It seems strange that although I may be wearing my glasses, it has become increasingly difficult to find the laces to my own shoes; tying them requires a patience of mind as I feel and grasp blindly at the ends of laces in order to loop and knot them properly. To scramble eggs in a frying pan is to stir wildly into the dark space before you and listen for the pops that would indicate the eggs are done. Many times, I would finish an entire glass, strangely, perhaps my favorite juice drink or a cold soda, only to find a dark, twisted speck sinking to the bottom afterwards, to find that all along there had been a fly, a bee, or a spider in my drink. Oddly enough, these troubles all occured with my glasses very well on, these glasses that were supposed to rid me of these problems. Then again I did notice some degree of blur throughout.

  Perhaps it is time for a new pair...
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