Recently a vlog titled “Sending My Indian Wife to PAKISTAN (Kartarpur Corridor & Gurudwara)” went viral and garnered over a million views on YouTube. The video was published on Karl Rock’s YouTube channel. The woman featured in the vlog is Manisha Malik, Karl’s wife who just happens to have vitiligo, someone not victimized by it.
Manisha, along with her husband, has been making videos for a while now. She was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 6 years old. She and her family were told that the cause of her vitiligo was a medicine’s reaction. In a video titled, “What’s Wrong with My Wife?”, Manisha tells us what it means to be someone with vitiligo in India and how she reclaimed her confidence. Here are excerpts from her chat with Karl Rock:
“I’ve been to at least 10-15 doctors. That’s because one doctor couldn’t cure it and then another doctor. And then another one. This had become a part of my life. Going to doctors, taking pills, not eating food that I was told not to. I haven’t eaten seafood my whole life, until recently,” Manisha recalls her early years with vitiligo.
Manisha’s family was worried because they knew a woman who was killed by her in-laws because she had vitiligo. But, at one point, Manisha got fed up. She shares: “One point in your life, you just get fed up and then you’re like “wait, why am I doing this?” I have spent all these years of my life trying to change the color of my skin. Even though there’s no guaranteed cure for it. So, I just told my parents that I want to stop now. I don’t want to go to any more doctors and they were very supportive of it.”
In her school, kids would call Manisha patchwork and zebra. But that doesn’t stop there, there are some questions she had and still has to answer: “Generally, people ask me if I got burnt; if it was an accident, or if I ate fish with milk. That’s a popular superstition. Another thing they say is this happened to me because I had committed some sin in my past lives.”
All of us are aware of the weird suggestions and treatment advice we have gotten. Manisha isn’t different from any of us. “They come and sympathize with me. And these two Punjabi aunties in the auto were talking to each other like “Oh my god! What did God do to her? She doesn’t deserve this. And she’s not even married yet. A woman in the metro came up to me and claimed she knows black magic and she can transfer my vitiligo to somebody else.”
There are makeup products that are specially targeted to people with vitiligo. And there are even permanent tattoos recently, Manisha has heard of. But she enjoys being comfortable in her skin now and has nothing to hide. “I realized it was just in me. It was just bothering me on the inside. I stopped wearing any kind of clothes that are specifically meant to cover my skin in any way. And people are still the same. But it’s you who has changed.”
In the end, Manisha says something really important all young girls with vitiligo can reflect upon: “My advice is nobody would take a stand for you until you take a stand for yourself. So next time they tell you that you can’t have a normal life because you have vitiligo, just tell them you’re wrong and you’re lying. I’ll show you. I’ll prove it. I’ll have a job. I’ll lead a normal life like any other person. Once you take a stand on your own, other people will follow. And just stop worrying about it and go out. Do whatever you want. Don’t hide behind makeup. Once you start doing this repetitively, you will realize nobody really cares.”
For more, you can watch the full video below: