To blindness and back: After regaining vision, pellet victim narrates how it’s to grope in darkness

Srinagar, Dec 27:
With hundreds of pellet victims struggling to regain vision despite multiple surgeries, Hafiz Shahid Ali of Anantnag has been lucky to have his sight back after both his eyes were damaged by pellets.

Thirteen-year-old Shahid lived a life of blindness for three months. Life had become a burden. “It’s tough to explain how it feels to be blind. Just close your eyes and walk around, the darkness will make you realize what it feels to lose eyes,” says Shahid.

His father Ali Mohammad says, “He had gone to a religious congregation where he was to be felicitated for memorizing Quran. But the government forces fired pellets at the congregation and injured my son. My wife who was accompanying Shahid was also injured in the leg.”

The doctors who have been treating Shahid say, “He had double wounds in the eyes. The pellet had made an open and exit wound in both the eyes.”

But multiple surgeries helped Shahid regain the lost eyesight.

“My right eye was more severely damaged than the left. When the doctors first operated me I couldn’t see anything. I was like a blind man walking with a stick in hand,” he says.

As part of follow-up treatment, Shahid was called by the doctors at SMHS hospital to prepare for second round of surgery. But this time the man who was handling the eyes was renowned Vitreo Retinal Specialist, Dr Natarajan.

“There was a visible change. I could see. I could see the blue pheran of my mother, the smile on her lips,” he says.

For days Shahid couldn’t believe that he could see and feared that he will lose vision after couple of days as had been happening with other pellet victims like him.

“I was not closing my eyes, not even during nights, fearing I might lose the vision, again.”

To confirm that the eyes can indeed see, Shahid would wake up in the middle of the night and look up in to the sky to check whether he can see the stars twinkling. And he would silently thank God and go back to sleep.

“It’s a miracle. I never thought I will be able to see again. Deep down I had accepted this new life of darkness, for I had no other option but to accept it. And suddenly a ray of light came and made my world colorful again,” he says.

According to SMHS hospital records, 1580 people suffered injuries due to pellets around the eyes. As per the official records, 574 major eye surgeries (victrectomy and retina procedures) and 763 preliminary eye procedures were conducted.

A doctor who is treating Shahid says, “He has regained 80 percent vision which is a huge success for a boy whose both eyes were badly damaged. His right eye has been operated twice and the left one once. All the surgeries have shown positive results.” shafaq@risingkashmir.com