By Ademola Adeleke
Prior to 2017, I was ashamed to tell my online friends that I’m a blind Nigerian. We would chat and discuss all day, exchanging pictures and other visual contents without knowing that at my own end, someone’s gaze is what I was borrowing to assess the visuals received.
I would even blind-date, nurture relationships for months with girls online, but with an identity that has no blindness in it. In my mind, the relationship would start and end on the internet, there definitely wasn’t going to be a proper date or visit, thus, there will be no way for my online sweetheart to find out that the dude behind the online profile is blind.
I was naive and immature, I didn’t think of what will become of me if my stupid game should compel me into perpetually adopting a false identity all my life; or what if the clock hands stiffen and can no longer be turned backward?..
I got so used to adopting a bogus identity when interacting in a virtual community (online platforms) and little by little, I became an addict. People started knowing ‘Demola Adeleke’, a Facebook enthusiast and also a developing writer of flash fictions who writes to give imagery, but what people didn’t know is that I write those stories with my eyes shut. I can only hear when my writing devices mention the letters I typed; how they are arranged on the screen, I usually don’t know.
My old friends who we last saw when I could still see would chat me and ask how I was doing, but I was ‘maybe’ afraid to tell them what turn my fate had taken, perhaps I thought I might end up being isolated or labelled, so I always assured them life was fair to me and we all would laugh over other matters.
It took me the first 5 months of 2017 to assemble the courage to announce the loss of my sight online. When I finally did, many even thought it was one of my fictions, some chatted me privately and asked if it was a mere social media stunt; my primary and high school pals who are on my friends list couldn’t believe it was true, many of them requested my phone number so they could have a direct talk with me but I declined. You want to know why? I detest consolations, it immerses me deep into dejection, it makes me feel like I lost not only my sight but also the hopes of living a fruitful life.
Ok, back to the matter now, few words on composing a post was all I spent that day and before twilight, all my friends online had got the news that Demola is blind. Maybe you don’t know, it takes only a bold mind to do that. See, no hype or anything of such here, but he who cannot grab a two-edged sword by the blade wouldn’t divulge a fake identity so bluntly like I did.
Some of my blind friends who were in my room on the day I announced my blindness cast me some scoldings because they were of the opinion that I shouldn’t have disclosed something like that so openly. But guess what? My highest achievement that year is revealing my blindness to the online community; By so doing, numerous opportunities have located me; both good and indecent ones though, I’ve had more people appreciating my works, I can’t keep records of the interviews I’ve granted again, recognition upon recognition everywhere, I’m now feeling like Chimamanda Adichie when she was just starting to pursue a career in authoring.
Ask me now to choose between my sighted days and now that I’m blind; and I will reply you thus: that’s the most confusing question one will ever ask me. I know many persons here are just like the old me, hiding their real identity which may be societally perceived as being substandard behind the internet veil. Beloveds, please come out of that hide-out and present yourself exactly the way you are, trust me, it’s either you lose nothing or few of your friends whose mind are shallow, but rest assured not to lose anything noticeable. Instead, you will gain more; like the feeling of being real and original as opposed being an impostor, genuine approaches to matters with the confidence of honesty, absence of the fear of being caught, the happiness of not keeping any explosive secret, etc.
Beloveds, please come out of that hide-out and present yourself exactly the way you are, trust me, it’s either you lose nothing or few of your friends whose mind are shallow, but rest assured not to lose anything noticeable. Instead, you will gain more; like the feeling of being real and original as opposed being an impostor, genuine approaches to matters with the confidence of honesty, absence of the fear of being caught, the happiness of not keeping any explosive secret, etc.
Come out and face the challenges of being challenged or problematic, face them boldly and never give up on the fight. Those from whom you’re keeping your secrets have their own confidential matters too, so don’t feel like you are alone in such situations and end up carrying opportunistic secrets to your grave.
Spill it out! Being challenged is not a sin. When a problem blemishes your original plans, pounce on the idiot and from it carve out a new fate, only then can you boast of being a fearless fighter!!
I made the best decision of my life in 2017, honestly.!