This is part three (of three) of the story behind what caused me to come to America, after having been blinded and disfigured by robbers who poured acid into my eyes, and over my face and torso.
Into this bleak setting, my mother entered the hospital room with her heart in her mouth. She was horrified as she scanned my face. In my mind’s eye I could see that Mother allowed a look of doubt—of uncertainty that she was looking at her only daughter—to fill her face. Mother wept and sighed because I was blind and severely disfigured. I looked down as if ashamed.
After the initial shock was past, with enough pain in her voice as if she herself had been injured, Mother said weepily, “Blindness has forced you into a life of never-ending helplessness and misery. Where is your anger, Carol? “
I replied, “Mama, I have my anger. And Mama, I will never stand on a street corner with a tin.”
I knew I used to be convincing. Shaking my head mournfully, I hoped my expression of certainty was convincing.
Mother replied, “Nothing seems to keep Carol down for long, nothing seems to defeat her.” Mother sat in the chair at my bedside as I thought of my friends, full of life to live, wives and husbands, mothers and admirers. Mother was pacing up and down the room when she abruptly stopped, and said heatedly, “Looking at my only daughter’s devastation, I’ve thought of a thousand expletives, but I know that none would serve any purpose.”
My parents were devastated, and could not imagine how I could live. Like so many other people living in a third world country, they did not know any person of worth who was blind. The blind people that they knew were beggars, and were teased simply because they were blind.
Like Mother, we are all forced to act on insufficient knowledge; we are forced to commit ourselves financially, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually without being able to foresee the consequences. Perhaps that is why sighted people are especially interested in blind people. Because in his/her uncertainty, they unconsciously recognize a symbol of their own uncertain progress toward the unseen future.
Parents of blind children should give children a sense of themselves. Instead of mourning forever over the cruel hand of fate, or assigning them a demeaning status, a parent needs to recognize that his /her living child is different, but not defeated. The child has special needs, but also needs special skills. They may take more time, but ultimately, they can achieve much of what they want.
It is not pleasant to be blind, but I am determined to be Carol Guscott, who incidentally, is blind.