I was born in Varanasi but spent most of my life in Lucknow. I completed my education from Pune and now living in Mumbai where I am working for a stockbroking firm as a human resource professional for the past 2 years. Well, getting a job has been hard for me as many companies rejected me during campus placement drives due to my skin condition (the reason clearly stated by many companies when I asked for feedback).
This can make people say that these spots took away what I deserved, but I know that my loss is not because of these spots. It is because of people with a narrow mindset who tied to drag me down.
I was 3 years old when my parents noticed a spot under my left eye. As a child, it was very difficult to understand what was going on, as I was unable to understand why kids won’t play with me. I still remember being called names and not understanding their meaning but I know they were not good words as they had the ability to make my mother upset. The worst thing I faced was people having a perception that if their kid would touch me or eat with me they would also get it. Mothers-to-be felt if they stayed close to me their baby could catch it. It took me years to explain to people that vitiligo is not contagious and if it was then my family would already have it (I am the only one in my entire family who has it).
While growing up, being called names and made fun of was a part of my day-to-day life. It made me cry once but then I heard my parents fighting and blaming each other for my condition. That broke me and I turned quite. I refused going out, talking to people, taking pictures or even being too close to people I loved (as I was scared I would give them what I had).
I finally accepted myself when I was in class 7th. This time, I was made fun of in front of the whole class for my spots and my weight (I was a teenager who could only fit in adults XL size). Strangely enough, I found strength in that insult. From that day I never allowed anyone to bully me or anyone around me.
I remember trying to convince my family that I don’t want treatments and they all thought I was saying this because I was losing hope or was scared of the financial pressure. After I came across so many people owning it and people with vitiligo actually turning into models, I was able to convince my family that if these people can accept it and live a beautiful life, why can’t I. Till date people suggest me treatments and I do smile and take all the details, but I know it in my heart that I am never going for another treatment again.
As I got my first spot very early in life I have no memory of my life without vitiligo. But it did take me a long time to accept that my spots are a part or me and my personality. There was a time when I wished I never had vitiligo as it would have made it easier for me to study, play and have friends or just look at myself. But now, I know I was blessed to have it. It’s a part of my identity and people know me because of it. The confidence these spots gave me is my biggest strength right now.
However, acceptance was something I had to work on. Music has always been a very important part of my self-acceptance journey. Songs like “Beautiful” by Eminem “Perfect” by P!nkand “Numb”, and “In the end” by Linkin Park are close to my heart. These songs get me back on track every time I start to feel low.
I used to teach kids during my school and graduation life and I was scared of the questions my students and their families could have about me. But the kind of love they gave me was just pure and beautiful. I am still in contact with most of my students and still have the cards they made me for teachers day. Whenever anyone tells me that I can never do anything significant in life, I look at those cards to know that I have already done that.
In many books and movies, I have seen that characters with vitiligo are portrayed either to aim for pity or vitiligo is counted as a disability. We all need to understand that vitiligo is not a disease and it defiantly doesn’t make me disabled. I am a normal person with a dual skin tone. I think it’s high time we recognize people for their worth, not what they look like or what others think about them.