Written by E.L. Bean – Instagram: @elmpii
A child’s birth name is usually predetermined from their parents during or even before pregnancy. But for little Sili that wasn’t the case. On a rainy September afternoon, Judy’s water broke and along with Sili came an unexpected misfortune. Sili was born blind. None of the doctors could give a medical explanation for her condition. As hard as it was, Sili’s parents decided that it was God’s will, so they accepted it. They gave her the name Sili, which in Chinese means sight.
As she was growing up, in a small town near London, Sili was living a rather normal life. She never let her disability affect her in any way. As most kids at her age, Sili was experiencing bullying. Not because of her disability, but because of her name. When a nine-year-old hears the name Sili, they immediately connect it with the word silly, which means stupid. Walking down the corridors in her school, Sili would hear her classmates shouting “How silly does the name Sili sound?” – “Hey Sili, make something silly…” But Sili never felt unhappy or angry. She would not turn her head – she would not answer. She would smile politely, even laugh about it and would keep walking her way to her class. She would sit on the first desk in front of the blackboard with the confidence of a graduate student, she would put on her little rose-tinted sunglasses and would transport into a different world. A world with colors – a world without bullies – a world that has only sunny days. That was her ideal world as she used to say: “I’m Sili and I find the world behind my glasses, much more interesting than the one I live in.”
No one could understand what that meant, because Sili had a little secret. Every night before she fell asleep, she would put on her little rose-tinted glasses, she would close her eyes and then her mind would create all the colorful images that she couldn’t see during the day. But the secret was that Sili could control this world. She could do anything she wanted. She could go anywhere she liked. Strange how a mind, that has never experienced an image of the real world can suddenly create, through imagination, a whole life – and live in it.
Because of her inability to see, Sili had advanced all her other senses. The sounds, the tastes, the smells. Her perception of the world was entirely different from what we experience every day, and that was because Shili was unable to see all the grotesque and unspeakable things that were happening around her. Unable to see, but able to feel – and that was worse for her. She could feel the misery in her parents’ life. How depressed and helpless the real world has made them. The enjoyment of little things – a sweet kiss for good morning, a warm hug for I missed you – were all replaced with one word: misery. She could feel the fear and the stress of her classmates at school. She could feel the embarrassment and the guilt in people on the street. She could see nothing, but she could feel everything and that was too much – even for a 9-year-old.
Sometimes it’s difficult to change something you can only feel. How much easier her life would be, if Sili could find a solution to all her parents’ problems. Then laughing during a family dinner would be a routine and not an extraordinary occasion. How much more interesting life at her school would be, if she could erase all the insecurities and fears her classmates had. Then the only sound someone could hear at the schoolyard would be that of laughs. How much more beautiful this world could be if she could replace people’s ego with a “we.” Then she could finally make her world behind her glasses real. But deep in her heart Sili knew that the damage was already done. It was irreversible and she was too small to change anything. So, she had to think of a way that allows her to escape reality, to be happy. She could not help the others so at least she would have to think herself. Either way, isn’t that what mankind does?
Little Sili loved books. It was another way to escape the miserable reality. Her mature perception of this world was partly because of the hundreds of audio books she had listened to. She had asked her parents for a new bookcase in her bedroom, but her mother’s answer was short and definite: “We can barely buy you food and you ask for a bookcase?” Sili had to find a place to hide all the books she had. And she did. In her wardrobe. Of all her books, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas was her favorite and there was a quote that she loved. “All for one and one for all.” “Wouldn’t that be great?” She would wonder sometimes. Why is it that instead of all for one and one for all, had become one for one? Why were people so self-centered and why did they feel more satisfied when they saw a person fail than succeed? What kind of ideology was that? Because if it was happening on such a large scale, it must be an ideology, a long-term trend, a chronic disease. All these thoughts in the little mind of a nine-year-old was a lot to handle.
In order to escape this disease, Sili had to find a cure, a kind of medicine, that will help her live in her own world. However, it was impossible for her to accomplish that idea all by herself. She needed some help. Her plan was to share her idea of the new world with others. She wanted to tell everyone that this kind of world exists. She has seen it with her own eyes. Eyes unable to see the misery and the sadness but capable of seeing the beauty and the magic.” If they don’t want to follow me, then they can help me find a way to live there forever.” Sili thought. Afterall, how hard would it be for someone to help a little girl live happily ever after?
First, Sili asked her parents’ help. On a Sunday morning, a day that families are supposed to be together, the little girl, always wearing her rose sunglasses, ran to the kitchen where her two parents were. “Mum?” asked the little girl. But there was no answer. “Mum?” She asked a second time. Again, no answer. Her mum was too busy complaining about their low income and the financial problems that they were facing, and her daddy almost covered behind a pile of unpaid bills was silently accepting all the accusations about the miserable life of the family.
Little Sili had to find someone else to help her. So, on Monday morning, the worst day of most young students, Sili, always wearing her rose sunglasses, ran to her class, where her favorite teacher was. Miss Rene was a middle-aged chubby woman with long red hair. She always used to say to her little students “I am always here if you need someone to talk to.” However, on that Monday morning she wasn’t. “Come back on Friday, Sili. Today it’s not the best day. I’m sorry.”
Third and last chance for the little girl’s happiness was her weird old neighbor with the thousand cats, living across the street. Sili used to find it really fascinating how an eighty-five-year-old man could have the time to take care of seventeen cats, while her parents seemed to be struggling with just one kid. She used to visit him two or three times per week and helped him with his cats. As a thank you, he would narrate stories about his exciting past life.
Little Sili, always wearing her rose sunglasses, ran to Mr. Bachmann’s house. She kept ringing the bell, but he was nowhere to be found. A pile of letters and newspapers was covering his doormat. But little Sili could not see that. An awful smell was coming out of his apartment. Little Sili could smell that. She would inform her mother about it, once she had finished her own plan.
She gave up on the idea of finding assistance for her little plan. Once again, she had to follow the ideology of her mankind. One for one. She had to find her own way to go to the other world- the ideal world behind her rose-tinted glasses. She had to discover the cure by herself. She needed to find this medicine. Sili took a last bath in the parents’ bathroom. She ran quickly to her bedroom, leaving the drawer and her father’s box of powerful sleeping tablets open. She wore her favorite red dress, she put one her rose tinted glasses and lied on her bed. She closed her eyes and waited…
A week later everyone was available to attend little Sili’s funeral. Everyone but Mr. Bachmann. He didn’t need to go to the little girl’s funeral. He was already with her.
“She wanted to live in the world behind her rose-tinted glasses” was written on her tombstone and I couldn’t help but wonder,
Do people really understand what that phrase means?