In the light of today’s Google Doodle dedicated to Ferdinand Monoyer, I recalled a really amusing story regarding my mother and the eye chart!
My mother (who is right now amusing those around her in heaven) had a zany sense of hum.our. She wrote articles and novels in Gujarati and was known for her brand of gentle humour.
What was funnier however were some of the most serious family episodes that we children found hilarious and were constantly narrating to friends and relatives and even amongst ourselves.
So back to the eye chart.
Mom had poor eyesight and a high number for her glasses. Regular eye check ups were necessary and my disciplinarian father ensured these happened on the date, on the dot. Mom had no choice but to comply though she was getting quite fed up with the long journey into South Bombay where my father had identified a good ophthalmologist.
Grudgingly Mom would go along.
The first thing of course would be to read the eye chart down to the last tiny letter. After this the good doctor would check her for her reading vision with a card.
But for Mom routine was boring. And she found her own source of amusement around the visit.
Here’s what happened during one visit. Mom read the eye chart with great ease and aplomb much to the satisfaction of the elderly doctor.
Then came the reading bit. A printed card with some text on it was handed to Mom to read. At this point Mom looks up at the doc and says honestly
“I can’t read a thing”
The doctor is flummoxed. Pulls up the eye chart again. Mom reads it again without any hesitation.
Back to the card in her hand.
Nope. Nada. Cannot read.
At this point Dad is getting impatient and the senior and experienced Ophthalmologist is mentally scratching his head.
Mom bears a deadpan face without any expression.
After going through this procedure again, the doctor admits defeat. And asks Mom,
“How is it that you can read the eye chart but not this card?!! “
And my mother responds without a twinge of remorse:
“Who said I’m reading the eye chart?! I know it by heart now! This card I cannot read.”
I’m not sure how the doc took it but we heard no end about this from my father who insisted my mom had been a source of great embarrassment! As teenaged children we laughed till we cried! It was so funny!
Then we asked Mom if she had been doing this all along! And she said yes.
And why had she not told the doctor that she knew the eye chart from memory?
“Oh! Simply because he didn’t ask!”.
In memory of my Mom, her memory and the great Ferdinand Monoyer’s eye chart!