When my mother gave birth to me, it was a touch-and-go sitiuation. I was created with an abnormally huge head, which I would like to insist is filled with a brain the size of a small planet. Whether because of the head or some other medical reason, my mother had to undergo an emergency c-section. Ingat, this was more than half a century ago in a remote hill station near Munnar in Kerala.
The doctor had tried to pull me out using forceps, but it didn’t work. Apparently he tried quite hard and my head and jaws were pretty messed up. The priority was, as it should have been, to save my mother’s life. When the forceps failed, the doc surgically removed me, stemmed the blood flow, sewed up the incision, and miraculously saved her. In what must have been little more than a village clinic, the doctor acutally performed something akin to a medical mircale.
But the mircale wasn’t done with the doctor yet. Among the discarded pile of medical waste, he noticed me struggling to stay alive, and promptly proceeded to save me as well. Good thing too, otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to read this story. I turned out to be a chubby and cute baby, albeit with an abnormally and comically large cranium. Years later, my mom told me how my dad had come in to tell her that they had had a healthy and beautiful baby boy, and how she had known that he had to be lying to keep her spirits up. She thought I had to be dead because of the medical difficulties. And even if alive, I had to be a girl because an astrologer had told her so. Ya, I did have an uncanny knack of beating long odds starting right from the moment I was born.
Looking back at the arc of my life, which has forever been pointing up, I can see that every upward tick in it was preceded by a trauma or pain of some sort. You would think that this ability of mine to turn every raw deal into something positive for myself is a good thing, something to be proud of. But it is not. For some reason, it leaves me feeling more empty. It underscores the pointlessness of it all, and somehow serves to magnify the pain by contrast.
There’s no denying it — the last couple of years have been harsh, like a thankless apostrophe to life’s pointlessness. Like these fuzzy features on my large head, blurred and mottled by the ravages of time, my mind and spirit also wilt in the harshness of these years. I smile a lot less — quite a feat for someone who briefly held the nickname el-smilo.
I remember seeing this poster in a girl’s dorm room a long time ago that read, “Our disappointments are God’s appointments,” which may be a good way for those who believe in a god to handle it. For those of us who don’t, baik, we form habits and find patterns into which to arrange the broken pieces, thereby creating a sense of normalcy and continuity.
Ultimately though, the patterns that make us human also give us the sense or illusion of purpose. Having forged a new pattern and manufactured a purpose, thereby making another victory of it again using my superpower, I wearily look forward – does life have another raw deal in store for me? I’m sure it does. Baik, bring it on…!