Edward Chisuse has had a rough ride with sight since he was a small boy. But now, he has a reason to look forward to the future with optimism. Bright Mhango finds out why.
It is December 2011; Edward Chisuse disembarks from a minibus in Limbe, Blantyre. As he steps on the ground, a dark curtain descends on him.
Suddenly, he cannot see unless he tips his head at an awkward angle. Ten years earlier, he had lost his other eye. Would this be the end of his relationship with sight?
Chisuse, 37, has never been at peace with sight. He began wearing glasses when he was only a year old owing to a cataract that he developed.
Thirty-six years later, he is still negotiating with his â€˜friendâ€™ sight and this time, he looks like he is winning.
â€œI have always worn my glasses. I would only take them off when taking a shower, but to apply lotion immediately after the bath, I would have to put them back on,â€ said soft-spoken Chisuse.
Despite the dodgy sight, he forged on with school, but he had to pay; while sitting his Primary School Leaving Certificate examinations, he overused his eyes and just after writing some subjects, he abandoned the examinations and had to be operated on.
Two years later, when he was in Form Two and tried to work hard again, he ended up passing his exams, but had to be operated on again.
In the years leading up to 2000, he was diagnosed with retinal detachment and he had to go South Africa for surgery.
For some reason, while at Pretoria Eye Institute, the operation went awry and his eye had to be gorged out and replaced with a fake artificial one.
Chisuse knew that what happened to him in Limbe was a sign of retinal detachment and when doctors at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital told him that he needed to go to South Africa for an operation, his fears took centre-stage.
â€œI was very shocked and knew I was going to lose my other eye. It had to take my relatives and pastor to restore my faith,â€ he said.
Being first born in a family of five, Chisuse was also afraid of losing his role as mentor of his siblings.
There was another problem; his eye kept getting worse, and to wait for government sponsorship to go to South Africa seemed suicidal.
Relatives pooled together what they could for their Edward and when February 2012 came, he was on the bus to Zambia where a doctor had agreed to operate on him.
One can only imagine what was racing in Chisuseâ€™s mind, but the obvious thing was the pain and with his brother by his side, he could only hope for the best while suppressing the likely.
â€œBy the time we arrived in Zambia, I was completely blind. I had to be led by hand.â€
The operation happened at Kitwe Central Hospital (Eye Ward), but neither patient nor doctor was certain of its success: one, two, three and five weeks later, Chisuse couldnâ€™t see.
Then, after the sixth week, things started happening for him â€” he could see.
â€œWhen I went back to Zambia, the lead doctor invited all the six doctors that were present at the operation, despite it being a weekend, to see me. They couldnâ€™t believe I was alone and not being led and it was also great for me to see the people.â€
Now Chisuse can watch the television, find a contact in the phone book and sashay around without glasses, the things that many normal, sighted people donâ€™t even cherish.
â€œTo those who are fighting my kind of battle, I say have faith. Who knew I would see or even get sponsorship to undergo an operation abroad?â€ he said.
Chisuse resigned as a filling station supervisor in 2008 and abandoned his chicken and vegetable business. A holder of a certificate in public relations, he wishes he had gone further with education, but the painâ€¦
He is married to Tabitha and now works with his retired father, but cannot do anything serious because doctors told him to go easy on his eyes.
In his life, he has had five operations. After December this year, he will make it six when a liquid that was put in his eye will be removed.
Chisuse is as calm as ever despite all he has gone through.
After all, not many are as lucky.