Nutsa Gogoladze, 26, Tbilisi
When I was four, I got a syringe needle in my eye while playing…
Then doctors and nurses made various mistakes, as a result of which, at the age of 9, I completely lost sight in one eye and I needed prosthesis. I was so young, and also because of the way my parents were bringing me up, I did not think or suspect that it would create any problems in my life. I never suffered of any inferiority complex until I grew up and decided to enroll in the Institute of Theatre.
I prepared well and took the first round of exams. They listened to me, then called me and asked me to sit right in front of them, at the table. I sat down. They brought their faces close to me, stared into my eyes and asked: “What is wrong with you?” “Are you squint-eyed?” and similar questions. I became hysterical. They started to calm me down… After all this, I found out that they had decided to keep me around for a little longer and let me pass through the first round. At the second round, the director who would be in charge of the group was present.
In the Institute of Theatre, for the first time in my life, I was made to understand that I was not a full-fledged member of this society. I had a strong sense of revolt – I am in my own country, I want to study here, I want to live and follow my career path here… They asked everyone to recite a story, a poem, a fable, to dance and sing, and I was only asked to recite a fable. I am not the type to link all my failures to my eye. I try to make my life easier by not playing the victim. However, the whole process of examination in the Institute of Theater where I was only allowed to recite a fable and cut me short almost immediately, clearly demonstrated that they did see me as a human with a flaw. They made me repeat the fable four times, interrupting me all the time with “See how we are trying to help you?!” and never letting me finish it. Finally, the director told me: “That’s the best I can do for you.” I was observing the whole situation thinking “Good thing I did not pass and now I’m not in his/her group!” I believed, and still believe that a person with such an attitude would never be able to teach me anything. This realization helped me to overcome the blow.
I did not give up and took the exam the next year too. There was another director to be in charge of the group that year. Before the exams, I approached him/her to explain that I had taken exams the previous year but I was not given a chance to show my abilities. I asked to be told outright if I was not going to be given a chance this year too, to spare me time and effort (both mine and theirs). The director promised me that my eye would not be a problem this time. He/she really did everything he/she could to help me and I am very grateful.
The rounds of examination started. I passed from one round to another. Other applicants seemed very kind to me and everything was almost too good to be true. Finally, examination results were announced. The list of successful applicants was put up on the wall and I saw that I was two points below the minimum passing score. I did not suspect any foul play this time and considered that I had not given my best at the exam. Besides, that director sent me a word to enroll in another department and promised to transfer me to his/her group. I was sure I lacked the knowledge and skills and the failure was my responsibility. It was a yet another loss and it hit me hard.
After a while I learned that seven official complaints had been filed by the other applicants and their parents. Their discontent was aimed at the director, as, they claimed, I had “an irreparable flaw”, unlike them, and it would be unfair to let me pass and leave them behind. The fact that the applicants who had seemed very open-minded and friendly had done this to me, was extremely upsetting. I was so discouraged that I decided to give up any attempts of studying in any university. I did not take any exams for 5-6 years, and only recently enrolled in Tbilisi State University to study fine arts.
By the way, following that incident, my mother filed an application with the Ministry of Education and all the other relevant authorities. They never responded. However, something has still changed. The following year, I happened to be passing by the building of the Institute of Theater on the Rustaveli Avenue. It was the time of exams and I checked the list of requirements for applicants. Try to guess the first requirement on the list. It was: “An applicant must not have an IRREPARABLE physical flaw!”…
(Author: Ida Bakhturidze)