Once upon a time, not very far away, there lived a Girl. Born in a simple middle class Indian family, she was born with one side of her face covered with a red birthmark. And to make it clear in the beginning itself - No, she had not been burnt or slapped or suffered an acid attack or painted or got her face colored with pakka Holi colours (These happened to be the explanations people gave themselves when they stared at her as if she had 3 heads). She suffered from a medical condition called the Port Wine Stain (PWS). It is estimated that out every 1000 kids, 3 have a PWS. And out of every kid born with this birthmark, only 1 has the PWS on his/her face. She happened to be the one who was chosen in God’s ‘Lucky Draw’.
Now, for all those who have decided to continue reading such a seemingly saddening write-up, let me tell you this is not going to be a sob-story (I hope!). Because the Girl happens to have a life filled with a lot more joy than many others. She has been born in the most beautiful family, has the best sort of friends she could’ve had, has received the best kind of education and can give people a run for their money for quite a few things. Yes, there are moments of self-pity and anguish. Times when people crib and cry about their problems and she can’t help but think that they are in a better position than her. Moments when she walks on the street and people gape at her and never forget to nudge the person beside them to encourage them to gape as well. They point fingers, snicker, laugh, sympathise, go into the ‘Oh-poor-girl-whose-face-God-has-destroyed; Sniff-sob’ mode. At times she is not, as we Indians call it, velli or ‘un-busy’ enough to notice and then there are times when she notices and choses to act like it doesn’t affect her.
But, it does. Quite a lot. And when it does affect her, the ‘why-me’ syndrome catches on, tears are shed, thoughts are thought and then a little realization crops up. Realization of the fact that she has been blessed with a lot more than many others and that there are people whose adoration is not affected by the way she looks. And if none of these realizations work, Google comes to aid. Call this sadism, but seeing pictures of people suffering from worse PWSs gives her a sense of being ‘lucky’ that her case is not that bad.
When I talk about the ‘why-me?’ syndrome, the tear shedding and hours of thinking, I might as well add, that all of these happen when she is alone. Assumed to be a strong and confident person by many, the idea of this image being broken by the revelation of her real thoughts about the Mark disturbs her. She has NEVER talked about this with anyone. She was never asked anything about the way she looks and more importantly how it makes her feel. Some never cared enough to ask and the ones who do care were probably too scared to ask, lest they offend/hurt her. When sometimes fate threw the issue in a public arena all that it received was an uncomfortable silence. Long story short, this is one aspect of her life which is captive of just her thoughts, ideas, assumptions and perceptions.
Microsoft Word’s word count tells me that I have written about 581 words till now, but I still can’t pinpoint why exactly it is important for me to write this ‘story’. It is probably because I feel there are many unspoken words of the Girl which need to reach out to somebody. My blog is still in the stage of infancy. Probably this write-up will reach very few people. But, I want it to reach some, if not all, of those people who care enough to ‘Google’ birthmarks. They probably will understand the ‘protagonist’s’ feelings better. They will know that every person with a birthmark does not really need to be stared at or mocked. Initial curiosity for a different looking person is understandable but gaping at them is not. It is not cool. It is not acceptable.