Tag Archives: comic

A Month Without Sight

When I was around 10 years old, I had an acute problem with my eyesight. The problem was so bad, but too novel for the medical doctor I was seeing back then, he had no idea what to do. So he suggested to my father that I should be blind for about a month. The intention was that I would not be using my eyes, thus, they would get a chance to rest, and perhaps heal on their own. The risk was that I might stay blind forever. So it was 50/50 percent chance. The procedure was relatively easy: the doctor would use a special kind of eye-drop, and Poof! Sight was gone. It got my father thinking, then they all decided to do it when the summer came (no school, no need for me to use eyes). Note here, I had no say in this decision because I was 10 years old.

Dr. AppointmentAs a child, I was dreaded. But it was not so much about the probability of going blind forever. It was the idea of doing nothing during summer. Yes, the priority of a child was somewhat different from an adult, I guess.

Life without sight

Since I couldn’t see anymore, I started to rely on my other senses. Thinking back now, it was a very different experience.

Missing out the fun?

I was a big book reader. I loved watching TV. Then there was my beloved dog. But all I could do was to sit there and listen. I remembered hearing people chatting. I remembered feeling the stack of books and comics piling up waiting for me. I remembered the sound from the TV during my favorite shows. And I remembered my fluffy super cute dog wanting me to play with him. The first few days was depressing. But do you know what the best thing about being a child? You adapt fairly quickly to the situation. I still could touch my dog. I understood what was going on based on the conversations. The context wasn’t to see anymore. It was to hear. I didn’t miss any of my favorite shows. I still knew which characters were doing what and where.

I still had to go to summer school although I got special treatment. I didn’t have to do homework. I just had to be in class. But it wasn’t that much fun.

Talking to friends

Not all of my friends knew I had to go through the treatment. So during playtime, they would just come and talk. They asked me why I suddenly started to write dinosaur-size letters when copying down notes in class. Perhaps they wondered, too, why I didn’t have to do my homework. As a child, I didn’t know how to explain my situation. All I could say was, “because I couldn’t see.” And they would tell me, “go get new prescription” for my glassess. Easy.

However, the hard part was to recognize people from their voices. Not every kid is going to talk to you and announces his/her name before the conversation. On the bright side, they are kids. They don’t get offensive if they wave at you, and you don’t wave back. They just come running to you and ask why you are not replying.

Then there was problem with eating. Although I was not a big food lover back then, eating still was hard.

I couldn't see food

That was how I saw things during the treatment. Perhaps when I said “blind,” you imagined “darkness.” Not in my case. I still could see everything, but nothing. It was just a big blur. It was like you are short-sighted, and wear heavily prescribed eyeglasses. Then someone knocks off your eyeglasses. That is the closest thing I could think of for you to imagine.

Back to eating. Although relying on my other senses was good enough to get me pass through things, I think it would be a lot harder if I couldn’t speak. Since I couldn’t see my food clearly, I didn’t know what was in front of me. I sniffed things out to understand what it was. I was a very picky vegetable eater back then, and somehow, my parents thought this was a perfect time to trick me into eating the healthy ones I hated to eat. So, it went like this: if I would like eating that, they would pick it, put in my bowl. Then I would ask what that was, and they would explain.

Dad explaining food

Seems simple. But it wasn’t. When I sniffed it, it smelled differently from what they told me. And sometimes it tasted good, and sometimes, I knew I was tricked.

When the time was almost up, I started to get clearer vision of things. When I could see things absolutely clear, we went back to the doctor for evaluation. I was in the 50% chance of gaining back the sight. I was lucky. Although my eyes problem didn’t go away completely, the experience did teach me a thing or two. Yet, I didn’t even realize what it taught me until later on.

One of the problem that still persists is colors. I don’t see them the way a majority of people see them.

dr frustration

I can tell you that I see the difference in shadings, but back when my doctor re-evaluated the treatment, oh man, he was frustrated. I just collapsed any shade into the closest color I thought it was. Perhaps, as a kid, it was explainable. I didn’t have enough vocabulary to explain to the doctor the difference. Perhaps, with time, I would learn to describe the colors better. Nah, that was their conclusion. I really couldn’t see the colors the way you see. I describe them to you as I see them. I am not color-blind. I just see them in a shade or two different from you. But, now, I have learnt to adjust my answer to fit with what you see. However, when there is a new color that I have not registered in my brain yet, you will think I am silly for saying a different color name.

I have always been thinking back about this experience. It shows me that the world around me is built for a majority. There is a minority of people that couldn’t see, hear, or speak (besides other “disadvantages”). I used to think I was weird, but then I have learnt to consider myself as “different” (in a good way). I get to go through life a little bit different from you. However, thinking of all the others that are “different” permanently throughout their life, I don’t know if I could say the same. At least I could ask when I couldn’t see. At least I could hear when things were super blurry. Some don’t.

Lets me try something with you. I will show you a picture of my favorite dish. I will describe it to you. Then you tell me in the comment below if you want to try it, all based on my short description. I will do it my parents’ style.

This is what you see:

blur bunmam

The description:

food description

Translation (in case you need it): “It tastes like fish. You know. Like fish-sauce. Little salty. But sweet. The soup is very tasty. There is shrimp. Squid. BBQ pork chop. Fat vermicelli. You can eat with cilantro, salad, sprout, and a few other vegetables. You want spicy, but chillies in there.”

Tell me now if you want to taste this?

Wonder what it looks like when you gain your sight back?

Bun mam


The photos are hand-drawn using Sharpie pens, the app Paper by fiftythree, Procreate, and Aviary. Pictures are taken with Iphone.


Doraemon- The love that never gets old

Since I was doing a class on comics and their principles regarding form, content, and other visual elements; I am compelled to write about my all time favorite manga (Japanese comic) Doraemon, and the technologies that still relevant in today world.


I think comic still thought of a child thing. Yet, comic fans would disagree with you. There are deep themes, and many other fascinating things inside a comic that other literature forms couldn’t express. Given this manga series was first introduced to the public in 1969, the ideas in this series are well alive today. Doraemon never ages, and never dies–in all sense possible.

Doraemon was first translated, and published in Vietnam around 20 years ago. I felt in love right away the first time I picked up this one when I was around 5 or 6 years old. Author Fujiko F. Fujio is a genius. He has given kids to adult not only a great fun, memories, and also beliefs in the awesomeness of future technology.

Distance–something that the human kind has spent a great amount of knowledge, money, and time to research for the best possible technology that brings people close together: from a train, a plane, a mobile phone, to a possible kinetic machine not so far in near future (hopefully). Yet, physical distance still doesn’t get that much closer for people living half way around the world from each other- a twenty something hours of sitting on the plane, accompany by jetlag, custom lines, and luggages–nah doesn’t sound so good.

Yet, Mr. Fujio has thought of a better way for us all:

Doraemon kinetic phone

Doraemon-kinetic phone

Doraemon kinetic phone

Turning a child toy that is easy and cheap to make, he lets the imagination fly! Perhaps these imagination is what others deem comic as a child thing. But think about it! Everyone is a child in a big body. Imagination is what bringing forth reality. If the Wright brothers didn’t imagine they could fly, what would be the ground to push them to make the first airplane? Imagination–it’s all what matters.

He also has this great other door–it opens to every where you want to go to.

Doraemon door

Nostalgia, a wonder about what history was like, the worry about what future may hold–it’s all the things that occupy our heads from time to time. Worry free, why? Because Doraemon has this awesome time-machine that is hidden inside Nobita’s desk drawer.

Doraemon time machine

Doraemon time machine

Memory, or the ability to remember something is important. Nowadays, people are taking pills to improve their memories. They have intensive workshops that work on how to best remember things. The abundance of information made available by the world wide web, or everyday interactions doesn’t help us getting better. A familiar scenario is cramping knowledge into your head before a test. Well, there is a better way to do it – very natural, and easy, not time consuming (but you will need a big tummy)!

Doraemon memorizing toast

Doraemon memorizing toast

There are just a few examples. Truth be told, Mr. Fujio isn’t that all optimistic about these inventions either. Doraemon is a representation of technology. He is portrayed at a hero, with many awesome tricks in that little pocket he wears on the tummy. But, there is so much a hero could do. At the end of each chapter, you would see how he portrays the negative setbacks if one is too dependent or have excessive use of that technology. The great door would have glitch: the knob would stuck and you couldn’t go back to where you were. The time machines sometimes would have problems, and would required constant maintenance (sounds like your current car?). You couldn’t eat the toast forever. And that knowledge would be valid until your next trip to the restroom.

Doraemon is not just a comic. It’s a book of the promises technology hold for you. It’s the imagination. Or better, it’s a scrapbook of ideas for scientists, quantum physicists, doctors, engineers, or anyone. The series has become so popular in Asia that it’s part of a culture. Often enough, you would tremble upon Doraemon memes from the Asian community on their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or other social networking platforms.

A meme on how Vietnamese people were so sad that their New Year celebration has ended, meaning going back to work, school, and everyday life routines.

The comic vocabularies also get infused into everyday language. For example, you would get  compliments referred to the characters from this comic.

I would encourage you to pick up this awesome series (the link will take you to the mangafox.me, where you could read it in English) if you haven’t heard of it. I promise you, it doesn’t waste your time. Indeed, I believe there would be so many things you will keep at heart as time goes by.