We are playing hide and seek back then. It was already five in the afternoon and the sun is not even showing signs of retreat. My playmates find it hard to locate a suitable hiding place because it seems that wherever they go, the sun follows them. The counting began. 1, 2, 3, ready? My reply is an immediate yes, confident that I’ve found a suitable hiding place. I hide behind a fence with few bushes, and is dark enough (so I thought), for me to hide. I sneered as the hunter bypass me, only to find out that a few seconds after that, I was caught. From that day, I started to doubt my senses, particularly my sense of sight. Why is it that I see a different and darker five o’ clock afternoon? Was it me or was it them? Oh well, I just told myself that maybe it’s a sign that I’m special.
It is the first week of my first grade class. The teacher arranged our seats according to our surnames. Having “R” as the first letter of my surname, I am designated at the back row, farthest from the blackboard. One day our teacher calls for a graded recitation. She is asking her pupils to read what is written on the board. I find it weird because there is nothing written on the board. At first I thought that she is playing a joke on us or that she could be testing us, until she called me. “Mr Rivera, can you read what is written on the board?” I instantly smiled and answered “Nothing ma’m.” After that, heads are all turned on my direction. I hear some classmates whispering something about me, and I see most of their teeth shining like sharp knives ready to attack me. “Mr Rivera, can you read what is written on the board?” I stood silent for a moment and though of my answer. Drops of perspiration start their race across my forehead. “Ma’m, there is nothing written on the board.” Next thing I knew, our teacher brought me out, and in fury she called my parents. The following day, I found myself together with my parents in front of my teacher and the guidance councilor. My teacher is then questioning my credibility as a grade one student. She is insisting that I should not even pass for grade one because I don’t know how to read. I on my part is also insisting that I know how to read and it just happens that there is nothing written on the board. To settle things out, the guidance councilor asked me to read few passages from the bible, which I did well. The next thing they do is ask me to read what is written on the board from my seat in the classroom. As before, I see nothing, and it was only then that they discovered that I am special. It was only then that I confirmed that I am special, that I need to wear glasses.
It all started on Wednesday, dawn of the 18th of June in 1986, at the house of my grandparents in Nueva Ecija when I first saw the world with my small eyes. I am born with an eye irregularity. My pupils opened late and are not able to detect light during the early instance of my birth, therefore making my vision blurred.
I never felt like a handicap at all. In fact, I never realized that there’s something wrong with my vision until that incident with my grade one teacher. My parents and my relatives raised me normally like other children. My friends played with me normally. People treated me the way I think they should treat a person. Things are all going normal for me except when I start hearing some people call me a snob.
When walking on the street, I often hear voices calling me but not see its source, so I just continue walking. Afterwards, people will call me snob on my back. Thinking that there may be something wrong with my eyesight, I compensate it by smiling in all directions whenever I hear voices calling me without seeing the source.
After having my glasses way back on first grade, I instantly become a class icon. My classmates gather around me to check on my glasses. Most of them find it cool, but I never did. And although my glasses provides me clearer eyesight, and at one point makes me a “cool” guy, it becomes more of a hassle for me. Aside from being thick, heavy and expensive, it is prone to breakage and loss.
Having glasses at an early age subjects me to the stigma of being a nerd. Although our teacher keeps on reminding us to not judge a book by its cover, my classmates have the preconceived notion of individuals having glasses to be nerd, intelligent people, and alike. To live by this, I pursue hard to be in the honors list. Since then, I became a consistent honor student that is also active in various extra-curricular affairs.
Living with my glasses for eight years, I decided to put on a change. Since the high school junior-senior prom is near, I asked my mom to buy me a pair of contact lenses. Convincing her is not easy. Aside from being more expensive than glasses, contact lenses are more risky. They are foreign bodies directly inserted into the eyes that give you the feeling of an alien, like in the movie Men in Black, is hugging your eyeballs.
Each day with contact lenses is a new day. There are hazy days; these are days when your eyes are clouded with mucous and dirt. There are clear days; these are the days when your eyes had enough rest and are fresh enough to adapt to the foreign body’s hugging.
Contact lenses did me amazing things. It not only provides a clearer and more compact vision, but it also helps me to become a better person. Contact lenses made me a more confident person, making me act more of myself, probably because it gives the feeling of disillusionment of having normal vision.
I never fail to surprise people whenever I show them my pictures wearing spectacles. It’s nice to think that contact lenses changed the way I looked into the mirror. Wearing contact lenses made me a positive person, giving me an optimistic outlook in life. The confidence it gave me made me do things I never realized I could do. Contact lenses help me do away with my inhibitions by seeing the world through various visions and perspectives.
Indeed I can say that I am a special person. I am seeing the world through various visions and perspectives. It’s a blurry and raw world with my natural vision; it’s a clear but slightly foggy world through my spectacles; and it’s a clear but distorted world through my contact lenses. Because of this, I am able to appreciate even the littlest things occurring in me. I appreciate my normal 1700 grade vision, I appreciate the aid of my eyeglasses and contact lenses, and I appreciate the support of my family in all of my endeavors.
Through the nineteen years of my life, I already broke my glasses numerous times, I tried frames of various shapes and sizes, I had contact lenses, and my eyesight’s grade is rapidly increasing. These seemingly confusing and chaotic visions of the world are what I consider gifts and opportunities that contribute much to who I am today. Thanks to them I saw the world not only 180 degrees round, but three hundred and sixty degrees times three.