December 18, 2019
I got glasses at age nine because of a comment my dad made offhandedly: “your face is so close to your books when you read.” Before I knew it, the optician had diagnosed me with nearsightedness (was it a foregone conclusion?) and slapped me with -0.50-powered glasses that gave me headaches. Already an uber-geek, I became even more the odd one out as one of the few nine-year-olds in third grade who wore glasses. I was chubby, had terrible fashion sense, and now this: glasses.
It somehow felt like the right punishment — after all, I did read a lot. And watch a lot of television — mainly Padma Lakshmi and Gale Gand on Food Network or Jeopardy! or Indian soap operas back when they were good, pre-Ekta Kapoor’s reign.
While most kids my age were playing outside at the park, I spent my time indoors, lying down on my living room sofa, reading. Each summer, I would get through over a hundred books — to the point where the Queens Public Library librarian thought I was lying.
I dreamt that maybe — finally — these glasses would afford me some superpowers. I wouldn’t just be that weirdo who spent her free periods at the library, that person who read the then Harry Potter trilogy before it was cool. I was so stuck in the worlds of the novels I read, that instead of writing a diary of what had happened to me that day, I wrote about my characters. Hermione made sense — a girl with a weird name no one could pronounce, who loved school, who’d much rather hang out with drama-free boys than the girls who seemed gossipy.