Most young people in East Asia wear glasses, as has been widely noticed. They become a constant companion from a young age, and we end up having a love-hate relationship with them, reports Anna Tang, who has worn them for most of her 15 years
NO, BRUSHING MY TEETH is not the first thing I do when I wake up.
No, rolling out of bed is not the first thing I do when I wake up.
No, opening my eyes is not the first thing I do when I wake up.
In the first few seconds when my mind is regaining consciousness, my hand is already moving, fumbling blearily around for the familiar feeling of –
Ah, found him. My glasses.
I have always sort of had a love-hate relationship with my glasses. He’s like my masochistic clingy partner whom I can just hurl at the sink when he somehow follows me into the shower.
And then he breaks down into pieces, but that’s okay. He was replaceable anyways.
It is embarrassing to admit that I am kind of dependent on him as well. It’s almost like the whole world goes a bit blurry without him, and then people laugh when I squint and that’s not really pleasant either.
OUR RELATIONSHIP WAS SECRET
He isn’t particularly great for my reputation. I thought he was an ugly match for me, so I always avoided being seen with him in school, even though it was a struggle. In fact, I managed to keep our relationship a secret known to none except my closest friends. But then, they betrayed me.
It was in 2013, nearly a decade ago, when the incident happened. I was sitting at the back of the class, and we were preparing for assembly. Right then, we were all supposed to read our lines out in order from where the script was presented in front of the room.
The teacher called my name, again and again, but I was frozen. The only thing that registered in my mind was his absence, that I needed him, that I couldn’t quite do this without him.
It was quite terrifying. Then my vision started getting blurry again. I think it was tears.
At that point, my friends took advantage of my weakness and exposed me. Us. Our relationship. Our awfully fantastically co-dependent relationship.
WE BOTH GET HURT
The reason I say he is dependent on me too is because he seems affected when I am hurt. It hurts him too, I know that. One time I was playing in the playground and a basketball was thrown, went through the hoop, and landed on my face. My eyes were swollen and bleeding, but he developed a crack too. He was broken.
I reckoned that perhaps he needed some fixing, so I brought him back where I found him. The nice people there took care of him, and within a couple days he was good as new.
But I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted him to keep up with the new trends, whether they be red, purple, glass or metal. I ordered alterations on him, and he looked just a little bit different every once in a while. Perhaps he was growing. I don’t know.
I just know that right now, he looks rounder than ever.
I wish I didn’t need him so much all the time, constantly. Perhaps I am the clingy one. But his loyalty is honestly commendable, it has been 10 years and he is still by my side. I think I should start taking better care of him.
I love you so much, my glasses.
The data: It is estimated that more than 90 per cent of school-age Chinese and Koreans have some type of refractive error, mostly myopia. However, it is worth noting that their grandparents do not show the same tendency to short-sightedness. Thus it is believed that environmental factors may play a bigger role that a genetic predisposition towards myopia. In particular, children need 12 hours of literal “shut-eye” per day for the eyes to develop healthily, and few East Asian youngsters get that, since they spend time on homework or watching screens of various types.