“You look so much better” interspersed with “May I ask what is wrong with your skin?” are the most common questions and phrases, which my ears have had to hear almost every day for the past 20 years. And while my mouth does respond, it seems rehearsed and void of any real emotions, neither of which is good.
Maybe it is because my mind has closed itself to protect me. Or it's something I made up to avoid facing reality. In any case, I suppose the only feelings remaining are resentment, resignation, grudging admiration, and a slight sense of pride with regard to my one foil, my eczema.
August 1989 – The month my life began.
November 1989 – The month eczema entered my life to stay.
I was three months old when my life and that of my family changed. Now I realize that it was for the better. True, it didn’t seem so good then. I can only imagine the agony my parents must have felt when they saw their first child suffering. But then, that is all I can do—imagine.
August 1989: Baby me
I don’t remember anything from those first few years. After all, I was a baby, who only knew three things: eat, poop, and sleep. So I pretty much sailed through my first encounter with eczema, which lasted nearly four years. It did eventually disappear, for a while at least, and I led a normal childhood with its normal problems of school, an annoying little brother, and over-protective parents. An overall normal 10 years!
But this normal childhood phased into an adventurous and abnormal adolescence. My eczema, which had become a vague memory at the back of my mind, decided that it was time to make a comeback. It re-surfaced when I was 13 years old, my first teen year, and has become my persistent companion since. My quietly structured life slowly fell apart piece by piece. I now had to face something that I had only heard about from my parents and instead of being strong, I predictably fell apart and acted out like a hormonal teenager (times 10).
January 2004: Vacation me
When a young girl is thrown off a cliff during an already troublesome phase, the outcome is generally not good. An average teenage girl’s problems are limited to acne and periods-related rash, but I had something that almost crippled me physically, mentally, and socially. I say ‘almost' because it didn’t cripple me but made me who I am today. It has taken me a really long time but instead of rebelling against it, I have learned to accept it and fight it from within.
Unfortunately, it was easier said than done. The one thing that added to my misery was the pain I could see in my parents' and little brother’s eyes. My parents had at least seen me in this state before, but for Nikhil, this was brand new and scary. It was bad enough that I was going through a hellish period, but it was terrible that my family had to go through it too.
I guess life has a very odd way of teaching you lessons and at the risk of sounding cheesy, what didn’t kill me, made me stronger. So stay tuned, because this story has just started!