The blind canvas | Inquirer Opinion

The blind canvas

/ 04:15 AM September 14, 2022

I stood there proudly, glistening like the shards of bright gold, in front of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, hitting the podium with a little privilege speech as we received our commendation of excellence for bagging the national championship in the inaugural moot court competition of the Office for Alternative Dispute Resolution.

That was my first ever national award, yet I cherished the memory, far from that of a supposed happy thought. It was like a wake-up call of my ultimate reality, nagging me about who I am and where I’m at. All the kind words and the heartwarming praises were just an infliction of a false belief that’s stabbing me to death, burying me inside a sense of the singularity of anti-life. Hopeless. Because moments after our recognition, I went back to being a blind law student, while one Sanggunian member after another poached my colleague; begging her to work for one of them.


So, while she was polite in front of the real Sangguniang Panlungsod, I stood there on the side, glistening quietly like the shards of broken gold, and then I asked myself: with my blindness as the only thing visible in me, is there be a lawyering career that awaits me at the end of this subway? And how am I supposed to know?

My mother’s incomplete pregnancy caused my blindness. I was born at six months old. Because of my weak organs, the doctors advised my parents to incubate me for a couple of weeks. Later on, they discovered something odd about the color of my left eye. It was turning gray. When the doctors checked me up again, I was diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity. It means that my left eye is completely blind while I have severely limited vision in the right.


One morning, when I went out of the house with Mama and Kuya, an incident happened which made me ponder. There were three kids my age circling me while shouting names. “Bulag! Bulag! Bulag!” I could hear laughter and giggle. Mama and Kuya never spoke a word. We just continued walking, but the kids did not stop either. I was expressionless, but their words shredded me to pieces. Mama just tightened her grip on my arm, and finally, my eyes squeezed out some tears. Then we boarded a tricycle, and after that, I never went out of the house again. I then realized it’s not about what’s left. It’s about what’s missing.

As I entered school, I always found myself looking for my things that were scattered around somewhere. I could hear the same laughter and giggle. But in school, there was more of that kind. The difference was, in school, I stayed because I had to get through—because I always believe that I can be a lawyer, my childhood dream. My love for lawyering outgrew all the lamest to the greatest reason. I made myself believe that lawyering is something that I’ll be good at. So I burned lashes and earned a political science degree for my pre-law. As serious as I was in making my dream come true, I forgot to cry about being blind. At least for a couple of years.

When the pandemic struck, I decided to look for a stable job to aid my family and finance my law studies. I was promised a job countless times, but I was never given employment. Perhaps the hiring officer was too shy to reject me head-on. I have a good CV, but I have blindness, too, and that’s what they see first from the moment I walk inside their office with a guard holding my hand, guiding me where to sit.

I cried as I went home after receiving my certificate of excellence. I cried in frustration for not being able to see my path. I cried for what remained. I cried for what I’d lost. I cried for my future, for my childhood dream. I cried again for being too scared. I cried for the unknown. I cried for not being enough. I cried. Because maybe, crying is the only thing I can do for myself and nothing more.

One night, when my older brother visited me, I told him about my situation in the most subtle possible way. I had to be calm and smooth because Kuya doesn’t like noise and rage. He talks less but listens more.

When I was done talking, Kuya said: “It’s not about what awaits you, it’s about whether you can wait for it or not. Time is your enemy, my brother. And the game you’re playing is not the usual.”

His words had the most unbelievable effect: I cried more for hope, strength, and faith. For in His great hands, He painted a colorful future as that of a glistening plate of gold, for the blind canvas.

Martsu Ressan Ladia, 25, is from Alabel, Sarangani province. He studies law at the Mindanao State University-General Santos City College of Law Extension Campus.

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TAGS: Blindness, truth, Vision
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