Eye can’t afford it

Rachna Singh
Saturday, 14 April 2018

I am turning the deodorant bottle round and round, trying to feel, with my fingertips, where the spray-spout is. That is, after I have bathed with the conditioner and brushed my teeth with hair-removing cream. The big question looms again (in font size 48, so that I can see it) — Do I need glasses?

I am turning the deodorant bottle round and round, trying to feel, with my fingertips, where the spray-spout is. That is, after I have bathed with the conditioner and brushed my teeth with hair-removing cream. The big question looms again (in font size 48, so that I can see it) — Do I need glasses?

Now, there are many difficult questions that I am always seeking answers to. For example, Am I a good parent? Or, will there ever be world peace? I read books, listen to TedTalks delivered by wise people with good hair and shining teeth and go barefoot, to shrines. I might get an answer soon. 

But, there is one question I fear I can NEVER answer correctly — Is this one clearer....or this one?

I am on the Optometrist’s chair, wearing a contraption on my eyes that makes me look like an over-aged minion. There is equipment next to me that appears sophisticated enough to beam me up to another planet where, I dream, all soaps will be labelled just SOAP in large lettering. The pretty girl in the white coat is slipping slices of glasses into my eye-contraption and asking, “Is this one clearer....or this one?”

The question makes me more nervous than the ones I grappled with in Grade 10. Like, Prove the following identity: 1/(sin? + cos?) + 1/(sin? - cos?) = 2sin?/(1 - 2cos2?)

My eyeballs have frozen with fear. I can’t distinguish. She, helpfully, places the lenses one after the other in slow motion and repeats the question, “Is this one clearer....or this one?”
I blurt out — The previous one.

But, I am not sure. Really? Was that one clearer?
I retract my statement like a seasoned politician.

She repeats the drill. I am getting worried now. What if she loses her cool and gouges my eye out? 

I clear my throat and, this time, I vote for the other one. Confidently. With conviction.

I don’t want to appear idiotic. I can live with ineffective spectacles but not with having lost my self-respect in the eyes of an optometrist younger than Dua Lipa.

The gruelling exercise is over. I am now escorted to the cute little table with two chairs where I am shown the options of lenses I have. I will soon rue the fact that I have eyes.

The list is long and complicated. I could go with Aspheric lenses with a scratch-resistant coating. But, then, hi-index lenses with blue-light resistance are also good. Unless, I want to consider polycarbonate lenses with UV protection. 

I am told I should go with something that is lightweight, thin, and impact-resistant. I am shown brochures with photos of good-looking bespectacled people holidaying at exotic locales. 
‘So, how much would this one cost?’ I decide to narrow down my choices.

The efficient sales person whips out a notepad and calculator, punches in some numbers and turns the calculator towards me.
I have a Karan Johar moment: I don’t know what to say, so I laugh.

‘The cheapest one, please’, I say finally. I am too old for niceties. 

P.S: Though I did, briefly consider taking one of the kids out of school to pay for a pair of Aspheric lenses, with a scratch-resistant coating and diamond-polish.

(Bestselling author Rachna Singh is a sit-down commedienne)

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