Through the Looking Glass

One day, my primary school arranged for an optician over. One by one, my classmates and I spent a little time with the optician who put us through a series of tests.

Later that afternoon, after my session with the optician, I was diagnosed with myopia. Personally, I was totally indifferent with the result of my eye examination. “It’s just glasses.” I thought to myself, shrugging it off.

While most of my classmates who were similarly deemed needful of prescription glasses, handled the news relatively well (or indifferent, like me), a small handful of them reacted very differently and left quite an impression on me.

There was this girl, whose name I cannot remember now, who cried her eyes out. In my memory, she was a tall, lanky girl with a gentle demeanor. Perhaps it was due to her impressive height and long limps, she reminded me of Olive Oyl.

She walked into the classroom, looking absolutely devastated. A concerned and curious crowd drew around her as she slumped down on her seat. Before long, she was outright bawling, inconsolable.

I cannot wear glasses! I don’t want to wear glasses!” She repeatedly howled between tearful sobs.

As the curious slowly dissipated, leaving behind only the concerned trying their best to comfort her, I stared in disbelief from my seat. In my boyish mind, I could not understand her grief.

A couple of days later, she came to school wearing a pair of spectacles, looking quite pleased with herself.

I had another classmate who needed prescribed glasses. We used to hang out quite often, him and I. One thing interesting about him is that his Chinese name is pronounced the same way as the Chinese term for “Champagne“.

Anyway, Champagne came back to school the next day and told me matter-of-factly, with a straight face, that he no longer needed any visual aids. Without any prompting, he continued by sharing what his mother made him do that early morning before school, reassuring him that by doing exactly as she instructed, his eyesight would have corrected itself.

Opticians everywhere must really hated Champagne’s mom with her easy eyesight correction technique; I held my breath and waited for him to let me in on the secret.

Keeping his voice low and soft, Champagne told me that at dawn, his mother got him out of his cosy bed and dragged him to the back of the house… And made him stare at the greenery outside.

I gawked at him, waited for more. Only when I realised that Champagne was expecting for me to reply, did I apprehend that that was it.

Staring at the greenery is his mother’s remedy for myopia.

How is that supposed to work? It is similar to what I was told by my elders that I can ruin my hearing by consuming too much pepper. As a child, the world was such a complicated place and there were so many things I could not comprehend.

However, as Champagne and I were rather close friends, I decided to keep my doubt to myself.

A couple of days later, he reported to school wearing a pair of spectacles.

Even since we left primary school for our respective secondary schools, I have never seen them again. Now that we are all in our thirties, they probably have their eyes fixed through LASIK.

As for myself? I guess I am now more accustomed with having glasses on than not.

My current pair of glasses which, someone commented, made me look like Harry Potter. P.S.: I have never watched any of HP movies nor read the books.

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