Rakesh Nahar was 10 when he noticed his first white patch. Today, he is a proud and happy vitiligan, but that wasn’t the case during his childhood. He was in a helpless situation where he was being stigmatized silently by his relatives, and at times ridiculed for a condition he didn’t know how it came about. He was asked disheartening questions like “Is it a genetic issue or a curse?”, “Did you eat anything wrong or did something wrong in the past?”, “Is it a medicine reaction or have you taken drugs?”
“I used to cry. I was upset most of the time,” recalls Rakesh. It was natural for him to feel lonely. He was unaware that he is not alone in this journey. There were many more like him. Rakesh used to ask himself why he was chosen for vitiligo as no one else in his family had it. “I was petrified and felt depressed. I was worried most of the time” adds Rakesh.
It took him a long time to get used to living happier with vitiligo. Until the age of 25, Rakesh didn’t realize that he is really special. Throughout this tough period, Rakesh’s dad landed him all emotional support and gave him courage to face the world.
From the matrimonial perspective, Rakesh was an ideal match. But, just like any other vitiligo fighters he, too, had his own pre-conceived notions. Speculating that girls would judge his patches, not the person beneath them, he decided to choose freedom from inhibitions in a go. The day he got married to Ekta Oswal, his sadness turned into happiness. It was, indeed, the happiest and changing moment of Rakesh’s life. It relieved him of the pressure from his relatives and ‘not so vitiligo’ friendly society. Rakesh is happily married and living his life on his terms. His wife is caring, supportive and loves him unconditionally – something all Indian men crave for.
Today a successful plywood trader and an eatery owner, Rakesh feels no need to hide his patches beneath makeup. When we asked him if vitiligo is an integral part of his life, he replied: “I wished vitiligo to go away during my teenage, but, now at the age of 30, I feel deeply blessed with it.”
He, along with his wife, became the brand ambassador for dermamatrimony.com (a matrimony website for people with vitiligo). Rakesh continued to spread the word about the website on various platforms (particularly on social media). He, subsequently, appeared in many news articles in Times of India and other regional papers.
We asked why investing in vitiligo awareness is important to him. He answered “I am not interested in hiding anything anymore. I want to get in touch with more people, just to make them realize that we, vitiligo fighters, are as normal as anyone else. We are entitled to live a happy life too. Vitiligo is just a skin difference, it’s not contagious. It shouldn’t be stigmatized”.