I remember there was this one time in college; I was sitting at the Registry waiting to register myself for my A-Levels exams. It was October. I remember being bored and looking around my surroundings. I remember the water feature and the turtles swimming under the man made pseudo waterfall. I remember looking up at the various banners of institutions of learning that were affiliated with my own college, fluttering, surprisingly, despite the fact that we were indoors, subterranean no less. I remember looking at the fine, fine specimens of the opposite sex, eagerly walking at a brisk pace to get to a class to enrich themselves with an education sponsored by their parents and/or dictated by the norms of a society that deem themselves fit to judge us, their peers.
There they were, sashaying this way and that, with their bright pink files filled with notes, colour coordinated outfits of varying scales of lookability and a subtle designer handbags and the latest in technological bits and ends comprising of what we now know as Ipods but were then called, simply, Portable mp3 music players, the latest(then) handphones with polyphonic ringtones and 1.2 megapixel cameras accompanied with handsfree sets completing their ensemble.
I have this tendency to look people in the eye, even though I don't want the viewee to know that I'm looking at them. Which I realize now after reading previous sentence, is very oxymoronic. It's a trait that has, and still does, haunt me to this day as being very stalker-ish, but I digress. With said stalker eyes I viewed these eager beavers(pun semi unintended) with what I thought were very appreciative eyes but were perceived as being very creepy and aforementioned stalker like and they thus quickened their steps to get away from your scribes field of vision. This continued for some time as I awaited with barely contained impatience for my number to mystically illuminate on the ticket counter number thingy to resolve my bureaucratic necessities with the Registry. As I watched the latest progeny of Eve sashay of my vision, I noticed something odd approaching my general direction.
It was what I presumed was a short female but there was something rather monstrous about her face. The first thought that crossed my mine was "Hey, it's only the middle of October. Isn't Halloween not for another 2 weeks? Some people are being a little bit over enthusiastic for some Western customs aren't they?" As the mask wearer got closer I started to realize that it wasn't a mask. It was her face.
Have you ever seen the Elephant man Joseph Merrick? Yeah. It was like that. On a slightly smaller scale. And a female. I couldn't stop starring. Something in the back of my mind told me not to. That it was just so fucking rude. That mom and dad brought me up better than that. I ignored it out of sheer curiosity. I wasn't repulsed but just intrigued, trying to study as much as I could of her face, so morbidly fascinating was the experience. Her face was bloated and I couldn't even see her eyes. Her left cheek was so distended that it looked like she was perpetually puffing. Her entire face was blue and black all over from what I've researched on Neurofibromatosis type 1 as due to severe bruising from muscle and nerve distention. I just stared and stared, mouth agape, even as she walked past me. When she was directly in front of me our eyes met, or more accurately the two little beads I could only assume were here eyes. And in that moment, I saw the pain and sorrow and humiliation that she had to endure from people like me who starred at her like some sort of monstrous sideshow oddity. All my shallow problems then seemed nothing compared what she had to face everyday.
In that moment, I realized I was such an asshole.
I don't know why I'm telling you this. It could have been one of the many skeletons that could have stayed in my closet. I don't feel any better confessing it. If anything this little anecdote has achieved is help spread the word about Neurofibromatosis type 1. Or it establishes that fact I'm, besides being homophobic, a real asshole when it comes to judging people on first impressions. I would like to think that what I take away from this is that, like the girl, I'm just human, and I have and will continue to make mistakes. Whichever way you chose to take it
I'm sorry Neurofibromatosis girl..