“Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are…” Brilliant nursery rhyme to begin with pre-school toddlers telling them that there are millions of tiny little stars up in the sky above that glitter on a clear night, making acrobatic constellations around a pretty ombre ball of moon. However, the much talented poet failed to imagine a large number of young readers who would be reading his poem with utter curiosity, but from behind thick concave or convex lenses resting on their nose and wondering why the stars twinkled less and spread more like a fearful patch of spread-out rays straining their poor eyes. I was one such reader. Welcome to the hazy world of the myopic few for whom stars twinkle either in a poem or through power glasses on the nose.
Why just stars? Wearing glasses ever since I started going to school, I can vouch how in absence of a pair, a dog looks similar to a pig, a donkey to a horse, a car to a jeep and one man to another. Let’s not even get down to birds. They all look like small black dots moving in the sky like a statistician’s colourless frequency polygon plotted on blank paper. Leave alone flying a kite which looks no different from a kite flying in the sky!
When in school, no matter how much I would squeeze my eyes or crease my nose, I would fail to read what the teacher put on blackboard and be easily be categorized either as a slow reader committing disastrous spelling mistakes, or as the Peeping Tom of the class whose one glance perpetually rested on the neighbour’s notebook. Every second adult I met, like an ophthalmologist, claimed to know the reason for my poor sight. Either I watched a lot of television or did not eat leafy green vegetables or was a studious bookworm! The reason would be anything crazy under the sun but that I was born with it.
Whether anyone liked it or not, I soon realized that glasses are like dresses. Wearing one all the time, except to bed, is mandatory.
History, however, has been particularly cruel to ones wearing spectacles. Isn’t it almost established by now that the loveliest of idols, Gods, actors, superheroes and famous paintings to admire have all been of characters who had a perfect six by six vision? In no possible way could Ram, Rahim or Christ be bespectacled, let alone their female counterparts? Even the fictitious Spiderman and Superman turned into their heroic avatar only when a poor sickly Peter Parker or Clark Kent did away with his thick black glasses. As if wearing one would have robbed them of machismo or have tattered their intelligence level? Sadly, in the mathematics of spectacles, wearing one is inversely proportional to looking hot or sexy. The calculation is easy. Thicker the lenses, uglier you may look!
Quite ironically, the life savior weapon of spectacles does not fail to invite nastily spectacular comments from few courteous nobles amongst us. Most bespectacled people in India would know what ‘chashmish’, ‘chaar aankh’ or ‘laaltain’ means despite these words figuring nowhere in the decency of Hindi dictionary. For those who didn’t get it right, the words are often commonly mistaken for a hello or hand shake with a friend in glasses! Besides, in every such prominent gathering there would be family or friends getting hugely attracted to glasses, so much that their overflowing love unabashedly makes them propose for your dearest spectacles, “Can I try yours? Just once.” Before you even nod your head in consent, they would have already moved a step ahead snatching it off your eyes and putting them onto theirs, only to return it the next moment with a whine, ‘Ooh! These are heavy. Gives me a headache.” How you wish you had said to them, “So do you!”
If only you could make them understand that the story of growing up with glasses is very personal and dear to our heart! It is about the umpteen numbers of times when you would forget where you last kept your specs and would run crazily to look for it in every nook and corner of the house until you got it back, and got it safe! It is about those fine moments of photography when sheepishly you would take them off to slide into your skirt pocket for one click and put it on again the very second it was over. And how sometimes there would be terrifically difficult moments of indecisiveness when you’d have to choose between getting out in the rains without glasses or keep standing under a shelter putting them on?
Nevertheless, changing times redefined the definition of carrying glasses, much to the respite of millions across the globe. Gone are the days when people gave serious consideration to laser surgeries for vision correction just to look good. With so many shades, frames and style to choose from the market, spectacles are no longer eye-gears but accessories making a crafty fashion statement. Full rim, half-rim, rimless, wayfarer, rectangle, cat eye or aviator, there could be one for every occasion. The old age plastic or metal have conveniently been replaced by light carbon fibre, titanium monel metal. Contact lenses of various varieties to choose from like soft, toric, hard, and daily, monthly, annually disposable, have sky-rocketed the eye business. The child of yesteryear who was taken to the local optician year after year to get a frame that looked tad boring and heavy, now hops from one Titan Eye Plus joint to some Lawrence & Mayo showroom to sitting at home PC browsing lenskart.com hunting for the latest trend and getting a pair customized.
Thankfully, not only things have grossly improved for the bespectacled but there has also emerged for them a vision beyond just the vision.
By the time I’d be wrapping up this article, it would be late up in the night and time for me to part with my most loyal friend. Before I jump into my bed, I make sure it lies within an arm’s reach, stays safe in the dark and is swathed in a cosy satin whole night long. And why not? Isn’t our relationship very precious, private and forever?