Growing up, everyone called me Afin (native for Albino). I began to think that was my name. “Afin leleyi” (this one is an albino child), “ah kole riran” (he’s blind). I couldn’t concentrate in school. Everytime I tried to join in and play I was told I wouldn’t see the ball. I was called smelly. I was the center of ridicule. Why was I cursed with a skin like this? I hated it.
“Mother, why am I different?” “Omo mii (my child) you’re the best you can be.” “Then why doesn’t it feel that way?” “Kini itumo yen (what’s that supposed to mean?)”. “Nothing mother”. I knew she saw the agony in my eyes, the pain I went through and she felt helpless she couldn’t do anything about it. Who was I to blame her? All she did was bring me into this world.
There were days I wanted to end it all, days I cried myself to sleep. “Mother isn’t there a solution to this?” “My albino child, if only I could give the hope you sought” “So I’d live in this hateful skin forever?” “You just have to accept you.” She looked up and I saw her tear stained face not only had I failed myself, I had failed the woman who bore me.
That very day mother took me to the hospital. The doctor had asked what it was I wanted all I could manage between sobs was “change me, change me please.” He had said they could operate my eyes and correct my nystagmus (the uncontrolled movement of the eyes which makes it difficult to steadily view objects) but nothing could be done about my skin. At least my nodding in unusual positions would stop I thought.
Office romance makes the world a better place. Read As Fate Would Have It
The ride back home was gloomy and the air thick that you could actually pluck from it. “After this surgery do you think everything would change?” “It has to” I said. She patted my head and gave me a smile that couldn’t go farther than her eyes. My surgery came and gone and as an albino child I could control the movement in my eyes. Now I can play with the children in the field I thought. I ran to meet them brimming with so much joy. I couldn’t wait to show them I was just like them. “Afin your eyes no dey shake again?” (albino child your eyes are steady now?) “Yes” I replied. “But you still dey smell” they laughed. I felt the earth move beneath me.
Who was this ungrateful albino child? Images of when I was defiant about wearing long sleeves and shades came floating back. Mother was right. I couldn’t make these people accept me. I just had to accept myself. An albino child skin was different I had to be protected from the sun while these people needed it.
Then it dawned on me, society was the problem not me. Here I was trying to fix what wasn’t broken. Today I stand in a room and command a crowd. I alone light up a room what more a group of my doppelgänger. “Albinism is not a physical defect. It’s not a life sentence. Every Albino child has a voice.” I say and the thunderous applaud which follows tells me more than what I need to to know.
Read the sizzling romance story between Ademidun and Enitan.
PS: The words in italics are in the native language (Yoruba) alongside, Pidgin English.