This is the first of an autobiographical series on my experiences with hearing loss. Posts shall appear every other Friday.
In my memories, that’s where it all begins. In that little room, or perhaps just a bed, where the green light shone, blinding me to the world. Voices of my father, mother, and nanny came and went. The smell of vomit remained pungent. Nothing remained constant but the light. My memory clings to the green.
Followed by screams and tears. The scissors cutting my favourite salwar kameez, the deep red one with the embroidered white roses. The one that brought me joy when mama gave it to me; my cousin had one too. It was the most beautiful thing I owned. And here it was, being slashed, without my permission, ripped away and discarded, all the beauty and love it once embodied, thrown on the floor.
Everyone came to my bed. My aunts teased me. I got presents that got stowed into the cabinet by my beside. Then they all went, hugging my mom, patting my head as they exited. Mama stayed until she left. I never could understand why. The darkness of a foreign room, shadows dancing in the wall, and unknown garbles resonating through the hallways, it all made no sense. The only company I had was the ceiling. And sometimes, the boy in the next bed.
Or maybe he wasn’t there after all. I thought I saw him years later on the playground, in a faraway land. He smiled the same smile that boy did, as he giggled and ran away. He was on the other side of the fence and I couldn’t go after him, ask, beg, if he was still my friend. He disappeared as soon as he came and I never saw him again; but his face remains etched in my memory.
Something had changed, but for four-year-old me, it was hard to tell what. The distance between that little girl and me now gets further through the years; it gets harder to recall what was real, what was just a figment of a terrorized girl’s imagination. When I got older, I was told I had meningitis. It came out of nowhere, attached by brain and ripped out my life. Six months bedridden, I think, seemed to take away four years of dancing, laughing, and chattering. The world went silent. It wasn’t me—I remained the same, curious about everything, but no one was listening to me. I never heard the garbles they all did. It wasn’t me—they just weren’t paying attention to a little annoying girl.
Guidya, they called me. Their doll, their little precious doll, now broken.
Sat sri kaal, Jai. Wow, you express this so vividly, even although your view of the distant pass is through the haze that inevitably envelopes our memories like a warm but fuzzy shawl. And your beautiful shalwar kameez – why did they have to cut it? I look forward to next Friday. Iain