“I was in 2nd grade when the spots appeared for the first time. At first, my parents thought it was because I fell down somewhere, but the spots grew in size and number.
When we went to a doctor, he said I have a ‘skin allergy’ and that with medication I’d be okay. But when my dad looked it up online, it was very clear… I had Vitiligo. The next day he went to the doctor and asked why he didn’t just tell us — he said, ‘She’s young, and I know how parents react when I tell them their child has Vitiligo.’ My dad was furious.
I was too young to grasp how much life was going to change. When they told me, they laced it with hope that I’ll get better. But growing up, life was hard. My routine was going to school, coming back home and spending hours outside a doctors clinic. Different ones each day. Sometimes I’d even take an off from school because someone asked my parents to visit a temple — where I’d be ‘cured’. It was frustrating.
Even in school I’d be called names like ‘Dalmation dog’. People would tease me for being ‘diseased’. But I guess because I had Vitiligo since I was so little, I was very resilient — no ‘stares on the streets’ or ‘name calling’ fazed me. What fazed me was the constant battle to ‘get better’. I remember trying everything from acupressure to even putting turmeric on my body for nights on end. But nothing worked.
By the time I was in the 8th grade, I had reached my breaking point. So one day, I went to my dad and said, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I’m ready to live looking like this — but I can’t tear myself apart to get better’. And he understood.
Not just that, he even helped me live life to the fullest! I was afraid of wearing shorts, or sleeveless clothes. But he told me that I need to let go of my fear — and he encouraged me to wear what I wanted! Every night, before I went to sleep he’d tell me to remember that when I grow up and become happy and successful — no one is going to care about the way I look. That made me so brave.
Initially I had a lot of restrictions on what I could eat, and even how much time I could spend out in the sun. But I broke away from it all, I remember having coke for the first time — something I wasn’t allowed to drink. I enjoyed those small things so much. I felt liberated.
Now, the white spots have completely taken over my body. I still get stared at, still get questions on how I’m ‘so fair’. But it doesn’t bother me. I’m enjoying life like never before. I’m working at a bank, and am doing so well academically and personally! Vitiligo has been the most challenging experience — but it has taught me to break away from the idea of attaching my self-worth to my appearance. So now I don’t feel the need to hide my flaws, but I’m falling a little more in love with them… each day.”
Reproduced from Humans of Bombay