Why does it hurt when you get smoke in your eyes?

You know how smoke impairs your vision. You can make out what’s behind the smoke screen but not see it. The defect doesn’t lie in your eye or in your vision; it’s just what the smoke makes you see.

Smoke has tiny particles at high temperatures. These tiny particles sting your eyes and the heat dries them out. Then there is that burning sensation in your eyes and sometimes in your throat.

It affects our vision and our quality of life, but what happens when that smoke gets into your mind?

I said mind there, not brain.

When your mind is smoke wrapped in a haze of stereotypes, perceptions, prejudices and judgements. For instance-

  1. Fat is ugly
  2. Thin is beautiful
  3. Fair is lovely, dark is ugly

Sometimes this smoke goes into the inner recesses of our minds-

  1. Women are meant for household chores
  2. Men are breadwinners and meant for odd jobs outside the house
  3. Seeking permission from your partner (read: husband) before going out with your friends- makes you second fiddle to him

And sometimes even deeper into our soul-

  1. My name is Khan and you may think I am a terrorist
  2. I sport a beard and you may judge me based on my religion
  3. I don a hijab and you think that makes me the weaker sex

Research shows that sight is the sense that people fear losing the most and many of us think of sight as only a physical manifestation of what we see. While it’s easy to protect your eyes from smoke, it isn’t always easy to stop the smoke from entering your minds and your brains.

The challenge here isn’t the culture or the system; it’s much simpler and more complex- it’s your behavior.

  1. When you don’t believe in societal diktats and yet adhere to the code of conduct
    1. Like it or not, you buy the whitening sunscreen and the haldi kesar face wash
  2. When you don’t believe in religion/ region based right and wrong
    1. Yet steer away when confronted with beard or hijab
  3. When you understand physiology, and yet
    1. Judge people for their shape and size

It’s easy. It’s easy to adhere to the social cues.

It’s easy to not stand out.

It’s easy to let someone else handle the smoke. It’s easy to blame the smoke.

And sometimes the smoke is so thick, that you can’t breathe in it. That you stay indoors, isolated, away from everything else.


Get the smoke out before it forces you in. That’s why it hurts when you get smoke in your eyes.

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