I used to be different but one day I woke up and couldn’t see beyond 5 meters away. My father still paid my bills back then and so off we went to the cheapest optician we could find.
The optician’s smelled like old books; it smelled familiar and strange at the same time. There was one attending nurse who looked as old as the place smelled. She offered me some kind of sweet and I looked to my father to ask if it was okay. He nodded a yes and I remember how the nurse had beamed at him; as if by allowing his child take her sweet, he had somehow provided her with enough validation to last a lifetime.
We were the only other patients there so we didn’t have to wait long for Dr Ajumo to minister to my needs. He smelled like the old nurse smelled and I would later ask my father if they were married. I cannot remember his answer. Now that I think about it, he probably ignored me and continued reading his newspaper.
The good doctor recommended glasses. I was myopic he said but it was good we caught on early before my eyesight deteriorated even further. I was glad too that we caught this disease early, who knew what fatality awaited me otherwise. I could have gone blind or worse, died from being myopic as I explained to my mother upon reaching home. She had mumbled something about my overactive imagination and my father had grunted in agreement.
Before leaving Dr Ajumo’s clinic, I picked out frames and my father paid the bills. The first time I wore my glasses, I saw a different side to myself; the better side. The serious, determined, focused side. I gleefully wore it to school the next day. My friends oohed and aahed over it. A new respect came with my putting on those glasses. I was going to be someone important just by reason of this glasses. No one told me about things that were better left unseen.
It has been some 20- something years since I was eight. Those plastic frames have evolved over the years and today I have four different pairs- of steel, of plastic and some other materials I never bothered to decipher. Dr Ajumo is long dead and I sometimes wonder about the old nurse. I will never forgive them for this lifelong bondage they seduced me into.
My first boyfriend was beautiful until I put on my glasses one morning and found the red panties under his pillow. I would never wear red underwear. The second man in my life was perfect until I wielded my glasses early one morning while we were in bed together and saw his bent crusty toes. The toe nails themselves had to have been borrowed from an alien. The story of the third man in my life is better left for those badly made horror movies. I will give you a clue: dandruff and other growing things in his hair.
My friends call me picky. My father too but I stare him down from behind my glass screens whenever he brings up the topic. My mother is mischievous and has broken three of my frames on purpose.
It isn’t 10am yet; at least that is what I tell myself as I try to read the clock on the wall of his room without my glasses. I can feel him breathing and I know if I look at him I will see his chest move up and down in rhythm with what I feel. But I will not look; not now. I will not search out my glasses from whatever jumble they got entangled in as he undressed me last night. I say a silent prayer that they are not broken but my heart is not in it. Last night was worth a million broken pairs of glasses.
My mother knits sweaters and all what-nots and sometimes I help her. She insists I take off my glasses if I must help. I love the power that comes with creation; even if it is only a little sweater for my mother’s unborn grandchildren, the children i have refused to birth.
‘But how will I know when I have made a mistake with the knit design without my glasses?” I ask her.
‘You can see all that you really need to see without those glasses. Go with your gut.’ She answers
I place my head on his chest and sigh. Love is blind; there is really no need to brighten its path with my glasses. This is what my mother has been trying to tell me since forever. I think of all the badly made baby sweaters in my mother’s old chest and I feel a flutter of hope for the children that will wear them someday.