There was an albino woman who lived in our village. Her skin was a painful shade of hot pink, wrinkled and lined like dry leather. Her pale, bloodshot eyes were hooded in a constant squint against the sun's blinding glare.
I am ashamed to say that I avoided her. She was a reminder of what I was - an outsider, different, marked by the color of my skin.
The kids used to tease me occasionally about her.
"Danica, I saw your mom at the well today."
"Really? I didn't know she went ... "
"No, your island mom." At which they'd burst in to riotous laughter and shove against my arms. Ha ha.
Life is cruel for someone marked with a physical disability. It is ten times more cruel if that person lives in the third world. I have seen a boy with Down Syndrome squatting naked in the dirt as he picks grains of rice from it to eat. A hermaphrodite pursued relentlessly by jeering boys. A girl with a wandering eye named, "Bent Eye".
We like to think we are more civilized here in the West. But in reality all our hearts hide a revulsion of those different from us. Christians ostracize gays and Muslims. Republicans revile Democrats, and both sides ridicule the Tea Party. Northerners feel superior to Southerners. The poor hate the rich. Whites marginalize Blacks who marginalize Hispanics who marginalize Whites.
And we're all bumping around in this crazy world feeding fear with hate while the suffering continues and nothing gets solved.