THE LIGHT OF MY EYES by Wang Yang
Often, we look for outside beauty. We fail to realize that beauty is not an artificial physique but the goodness of the heart. We should always remember that what is essential is invisible to the eye. The eye is blind for what is really important and beautiful. Let us not be discriminatory and judgmental of people’s appearances. Let us see and perceive beauty from within.
My High School English Teacher told us a story that I will never forget. I cried when I first heard it and I still cry up to now when I hear or read it.. At the time, I wasn’t interested to have a copy. But once in time, the story flashed back to my mind and I suddenly felt the urge to have a copy for myself. I tried hard to find a printed copy, so I went to ask my teacher to lend me hers. But my teacher said her copy was misplaced. I looked for the story in the internet but in vain. But at last, my long search came to an end. I happen to fall on a website (http://clairepalunday.multiply.com) where the article has also been posted.
Wang Yang (Central Daily News July 10/11,1973)
Published in Reader’s Digest April 1976
My right eye had been inflamed and swollen for more than three years. When I checked into Taiwan’s Tri-Service General Hospital in Taipei, I could hardly see out of it, and my left eye was severely hyperopic. Doctors discovered that I was suffering from keratitis (inflammation of the cornea).
“You could have picked it up from towels or from swimming pools,” I was told.
“If this isn’t enough, we’ll try to get more,” she said, adding, “You’re not like me. An illiterate person is blind though he can see. A man who can read needs both eyes.”
I put myself on Dr. Chou’s waiting list. A month later, he phoned me. “A driver was involved in a bad car accident,” he said. “Before he died, he told his wife to sell parts of his body to help support their children. Could you spare $250?”
The operation and hospital expenses would come to a further $200. I agreed, and was told to check into hospital the following day. I was extremely lucky. People waited for years before a cornea becomes available, and I told my wife how grateful I was to her for making the operation possible.
As I was being wheeled out of the operating room, my daughter Yung put her lips close to my ear and said, “Everything went well. Mother wanted to come, but she was afraid.”
I had never set eyes on the girl who was to be my wife until the day she was carried to our house in a bridal sedan chair. After bowing to heaven and earth, she was led to my bedroom. When at last I lifted the red brocade of her bridal headdress, I gasped with horror. Her face was cruelly covered with pockmarks, her nose was a deformity, and beneath sparse eyebrows, her scarred eyelids made her eyes swollen. She was 19, and looked 40.
I fled to my mother’s room and cried all night. My mother told me that I must accept my fate. “Homely girls bring good luck; pretty ones court sorrows.” But nothing she said reduced my anguish. I would not share a room with my wife, and I did not speak to her. I lodged at school. When summer vacation came, I refused to come home until my father sent a cousin to fetch me.
My wife was cooking supper when I arrived, and raised her head in a smile when she saw me. I walked right past her. After supper, my mother said to me privately, “Son you are being very cruel. Her face is unattractive, but she does not have an ugly heart.”
“No, it must be beautiful,” I stormed. “Otherwise how could you have made me marry her?”
In the 30 years of marriage that followed, I seldom smiled at my wife and never went out in her company. Indeed, I often wished her dead.
And yet, my wife proved to be endowed with more patience and love than anyone I know. When we first came to Taiwan, I held a low rank in the army, and my income was barely enough to pay for rent and food. The baby was often ill, and we had to cope with medical expenses as well. When my wife was not looking for after the household, she wove straw hats and mats to earn a little money. When we moved to a fishing harbor in the east, she darned fishing nets and when we moved north, she learned to paint designs on pottery. We never lived in army quarters because the truth was we both feared her meeting people I knew. I was often away from home, but I knew that needn’t worry about our two children or the household, with her looking after everything.
After the operation, my daughter Yung brought me a transistor radio to occupy the long hours while the bandages remained on my eyes. But I had plenty of time to think, and my thoughts kept returning to my wife. I was somewhat ashamed for telling her not to come to see me.
After two weeks, I learned that the stitches would soon be removed. I could not contain my happiness. “When I recover,” I told Yung, “I want to pay a visit to the grave of the man who gave me his cornea.”
“It’s a success. You can go home a week from today.”During that week, he tested my eye everyday. First I could see shadows, then the number of fingers on his hand. On the day I was going home, I could see the window, the bed, and even the teacups on the table.
“Mother’s making your favorite dishes to welcome you home,” Yung said when she came for me.
“Thank you for letting me see,” I said. It was the first time I remembered ever thanking her for anything.
“Tell him!” she cried. “Let father know you gave the cornea for his eye!” She shook her mother. “Tell him!”
“Golden Flower!” It was the first time I spoke her name.
“Why…why did you do it?” I demanded shaking her hard.
“Because…you are my husband,” she said, burying her head in my shoulder. I held her tight. Then I got down and knelt at her feet.
Posted on February 11, 2012, in CULTURE, Fairness, Friendship, Human Rights, Lifestyle, Love, Philosophy, Short Stories and tagged accident, blind, family, Light of My Eyes, love, Marriage, sacrifice, selflessness, The Light of My Eyes, Wang Yang, wife. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.