In 2013, Abhishek Bubna found a small white mark on his neck that he hadn’t noticed before. He decided to make an appointment right away with his doctor who immediately diagnosed him with the autoimmune disease, Vitiligo. Initially he was shocked to find out he had this autoimmune disease. He remembers sitting around with his wife and parents trying to figure out a solution.“I do not feel too good about having any disease, let alone having an autoimmune disease, especially one that is physically visible.”
Abhishek’s doctor had advised him to take some medicine and expose his skin to the sun first thing in the morning. Because he wasn’t seeing any repigmentation, he decided to see a Naturopath Specialist who gave him another round of medication to try. “You will not believe how many specialists I have been to. I have spent a lot of money on equipment and medicine with the hope that I will recover.” After seeing many specialists, Abhishek sought comfort with homeopathic and cosmetic covers. His doctors and family helped him realise that it will be okay. He will not let this pull him down.
Abhishek currently lives in Calcutta, India where the acceptance of the physical manifestation brought on by Vitiligo is very different from Western society. Arranged marriages are still a very big part of Indian culture. Vitiligo is viewed as unattractive and an inexcusable deal breaker when it comes to marriages. Unfortunately, many men and women living with Vitiligo in India sadly do not receive support from their family members.
Abhishek’s family is an exception. He is the only person in his family with Vitiligo, yet he has had endless love and support from his parents, wife, and friends. “They have helped my emotional quotient throughout my journey. None of them treated me differently. They have looked beyond it. My friends don’t care whether I have vitiligo or not.”
Abhishek recognizes that Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease but he also sees it as a cosmetic change. Because of Indian culture, having this physical disfigurement can disrupt your place in society. He believes that if people cannot see your beauty and only judge you by how you look, then you should not care about these people. “I only make friends who love me for who I am and not the way I look. I know sometimes it seems that it is easier said than done, but I have done it and so have many other people.” Abhishek once had someone tell him, “If you believe that you are perfect, you will be perfect.” This simple comment changed his entire perspective on living with Vitiligo. “Vitiligo taught me a lot of things. I have learnt the necessity of being grateful, the importance of correct thoughts and to do the right thing.”
In the words of Abhishek, “We are all beautiful.”
Photo by Abhishek Bubna
author Tiffany Grant