SOPHIA TAO

 

The surgical waiting room smells like sweat, hospital, and anxiety. We are all waiting. The lady to my left is waiting for her husband; the teenager in front is waiting for his mother; I am waiting for her.

What does she look like? She always asks me that question, but I never had a bloody clue how to begin. After all, how do you adequately describe to somebody what they can’t see? I can’t make her understand how dazzling her lopsided smile is, how serene her eyes are with all their milky depth. I can’t make her visualize her own sweet and lustrous, caramel-brown hair she likes to wear in a braid. Brown. Colours and lights – they’d never meant anything to her. But after this transplant, maybe, maybe.

Soon she will see herself in all her splendor and she will understand why I am drawn to her like a bee to the scent of chrysanthemum.

Even so, I can’t deny that there’s this selfish part of me who hopes she will never see. I’ve always had nightmares about this moment: even unconscious, I can still hear the haunted screams, feel the tangible horror. I dream of her opening her eyes, seeing sunshine, seeing life, and then seeing me.

Hours later, she is wheeled outside. The nurses are talking to each other and shaking their heads, mumbling something unintelligible. The operation has failed. I run up to her, grab onto her hand more aggressively than appropriate, and ask her if she is okay.

She may not have ordinary eyes, but they can still spill ordinary tears.

“I wish I can see,” she says to me. “I don’t want to see anything else. I just want to see you.”

A lump materializes in my throat. With my free hand, I involuntarily reach up to touch the thick blanket of scars that is the side of my cheek, and my fingers make contact with a face only a blind woman can love.