Thursday, June 21, 2012

Alone in a crowd

I looked up and our eyes met. His cold and grim, mine scared and surprised. How is it that he spotted me amidst  this mammoth crowd? He kept his eyes on me. OMG! There were about five hundred people gathered here, why me?

He was unfazed that I had seen him. He seemed not to care that I could out him and have the crowd turn on him. Did this guy know anything about mob justice?  Even then, the thought of the mob meting out justice on him was not much of a consolation to the effect his disturbing piercing look had on me.

Choosing to ignore him, I stood on my toes and stretched my neck in an attempt to see what everyone else was trying to see. There were two sets of people; the crowd at the periphery that was struggling to surge forward to find out what the fuss was about; and the other (lucky?) ones at the centre who had access to the ‘action’. These were the crowd pullers who attracted the rest as they looked on curiously at something. I couldn’t make out their faces; was it shock, fear, disgust, or sheer curiosity written on their faces. What were they all looking at? Was it a dead body? A man hit by a car perhaps? A victim of violent robbery? A sick man or woman with epilepsy maybe, who had suffered an attack on his way to Godknowswhere? Was it a woman giving birth? A fighting couple? Two men fighting over a girl? Ha! It could easily be two girls clawing at each other and pulling each other’s weaves because of a man!  A lost child perchance? A new-born infant thrown and left for dead? An aborted fetus? What was it?!

As I wondered what the reason behind the gathering could be, I was apprehensive of the man looking down from the storey building above us with a rifle in his hands. No one seemed to have seen him but me. That was not the scary part. The scary thing was that he had spotted me and he knew that I knew that he was up there.  With a gun! I was afraid to look up again, lest our eyes met for the second time. Oddly enough, I could not move my feet yet my head was telling me that I should scurry off to safety, as far away from this crowd as my feet could carry me. My brain communicated this danger to the rest of my body, but my feet refused to take any orders. So I stood there, rooted to the ground. A part of the crowd yet all alone. Singled out.

Soon the crowd at the centre (the lucky ones) started looking around as if searching for something, someone perhaps? It appeared as if they had discussed something amongst themselves and decided that there was a puzzle missing that would complete the mystery of whatever it was they were witnessing. They searched the crowd with their eyes, sifting through the hundreds of people. Instinctively, I looked up again to see if Mr. Rifle was still up there.

Sure enough, he was still there, still looking straight at me and still holding his rifle. Only this time, he aimed it at me! There was no sound when he pulled the trigger. I saw the bullet leave the barrel and come straight at me. Slowly, like it was determined not to miss its target. My legs insisted on disobeying me and so I stood still, my feet glued to the ground. Since I could not find my voice either, I looked down and covered my eyes with my hands. Then I waited.

The bullet hit my skull neatly. Imagine when you drive a nail with a hammer into a soft piece of wood and it goes in without much resistance.  That’s how the back of my head received the bullet. I tasted blood at the back of my mouth, like it was trickling from my brain, or up there somewhere. Then I felt some fluid oozing from my nose. I wiped it with my hands. More blood.

I found my voice (FINALLY!)  and  asked the crowd to help me! To take me to hospital quickly, fast! That I had been shot! That I did not want to die! That I had children who needed me! That I was losing blood and needed medical attention!

The crowd looked at me with blank faces. No one moved and no one said a word as I stood there with a bullet lodged at the back of my head, bleeding from my nose and mouth and my heart pounding like a drum…

When I woke up my heart was pounding indeed like a million drums!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Growing up & loving it!

I take suggestions from Hailey now. Like this morning, Heidi was acting up, she wouldn’t let go of me and yet I was running late. I needed a quick shower (like there is such a word as ‘quick shower’ in my vocabulary?) before rushing to take Hailey to school then going off to work. But first, I had to convince Heidi that clinging on to me was not the best thing to do at that time of the morning, when I should be halfway through my short trip to the office.

She insisted and I tried to negotiate with her “Mum, let me sit you down here so that you can watch some cartoon...CARTOOOON YAY!” I shrieked with excitement (like I was the genius behind the invention of cartoon network?)  I was hoping the excitement would be contagious, but she wanted to hear none of it. In fact she shook her head with finality. She always does that when you ask her to do something she’d rather not do. She does not utter a word, just shakes her head. End of story. “Heidi, eat your porridge” She shakes her head. “Have some food”, shakes her head. “Go to bed” The head.  How does an 18month old kid answer back to HER MOTHER like that!? Today's kids! Sigh…

Hailey looked on as I tried to get Heidi to let go of me. She was seated at her favorite spot watching “Bananas in Pajamas” (tssk! The things that float a kid’s boat, I tell ya!) Good thing is she was fully dressed ready for school, as she waited for her cup of tea and for her mother to take a shower!  Yet here I was still in MY pajamas negotiating with Heidi. O boy!

Seeing my predicament and knowing that I wasn’t anywhere close to converting Heidi’s shaking head to a nod anytime soon, she quipped “Mom, give her your phone” I looked at her and asked “What?” She repeated “Give her your phone” Ooookay! Anything to make her let go of me! I gave my phone to Heidi and voila, I was free!

Now if you don’t know already, Heidi damaged my last phone as documented in this blog post eons ago (Eons? Like I am a veteran at this blogging ish?) She was still a drooler then and was still moving about on all fours (aaaaw haven’t we come from far, you and I?) You know she walks now, right? Due to that piece of history, I was not so comfortable leaving my phone with her. I turned my attention to the culprit, whoever came up with this insane suggestion. Hailey. I instructed the genius full of creative ideas that it was up to her to take care of my phone. I want no tea, no porridge, breadcrumbs, absolutely no DROOL or slimy stuff getting within a radius of my phone. Understood? She smiled at my attempt at seriousness then nodded her head.  Why, it wasn’t so hard to get a nod from one of my kids after all!

While I showered my first born daughter took care of my phone and her sister. The house help was there with them but still…

My phone survived Heidi at the breakfast table. WHOA!  That was a miracle. One I am not assured will happen again and so I will continue keeping Heidi and the phone away from each other until she can get ready for school before me, sit quietly at the edge of the sofa, watch cartoon and laugh uncontrollably as she waits for her cup of tea, and offers unsolicited advice while at it.

My sweet sweet babies, look how far we’ve come!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thumbs up daddy!

I remember the day vividly, like it was yesterday. Wow! Can a story ever start with a more cliché statement? But I really do remember the day somewhat vividly.

I was playing with other estate kids just outside the gate leading to our house. I must have been six or eight (or thereabouts) – so much for the vivid memory, huh? We were playing and running and hiding and seeking and climbing walls and trees and stuff…screaming, shouting, crying…you know, being kids? I don’t know how it happened but one minute I was laughing while running around, and the next I was in so much pain, crying my heart out. One of the other kids had banged the heavy metallic gate against my fingers and my right thumb was bleeding like hell!

I remember looking at my fingers in horror, like I was seeing a horrible scene from a movie. I saw some white flesh one minute and the next, my whole thumb was covered in blood, and slowly, my whole hand.  It was painful. It was excruciatingly painful. I screamed, scratch that, I wailed like only a six (or eight) year old could.

My father was around that day. Lucky day, coz he hardly ever was. He came out to see what had happened and saw me wailing as I stared at my finger in disbelief. I ran to him and stretched my hand out to him as if to say “Look what has happened to me daddy!” but I did not utter any words. I couldn’t. I was crying. I was in pain! That or I just could not believe that all that blood was coming out of my tiny little finger. I thought I was dying. I thought I was done. I thought that that was THE END!

Dad held me in his arms and tried to shush me to no avail. I was inconsolable. He then washed my wound and that is when I realized that my thumb nail had peeled entirely save for a small portion that held it to my thumb. I cried some more. He took a piece of cloth and tied it over the wound. I guess the sight of a hanging finger nail caused 60% of the pain. When I still couldn’t calm down, he went to the kitchen and came out with a carrot stick. To this day, I don’t understand the genius behind this but he gave me a carrot to munch on. Maybe because he had no lollipop on him? Maybe because for the life of him, he just wanted me to shut up? MAYBE he did it to take my mind off the incident and the pain, and the glaring finger nail that was hanging by a ‘thread’ so to speak?!  Wait, maybe he did it just because he was at a loss not knowing what to do in my mother's absence?

Either way, I remember him holding me so close. The closest I can recall ever being to him, as he patted my back to console me. I remember feeling love oozing from him to me and I had half a mind to stay there, in his arms, forever. I knew at that moment that everything would be ok, that I would survive this.

The wound healed and I grew back another nail on my right thumb. But that is one incident I will never forget because as a child, I never had such moments with my father. He was busy, or he just did not know what was expected of him or if he did, he didn’t know how to create other ‘moments’ with me.

He fathered from a distance, with austerity and unrelenting firmness. We never held conversations on how school was, or who my friends were or what I would like for my birthday.

Never the less, he is the one man I call Dad, and my blood is full of his genes. I got his hands and feet and his quiet demeanor. In my adult life, I still hang on to his name because he is my anchor. I call him father because to me he is the only man in the world who rightfully lays claim to that title. I am the fruit of his loins.

Come  father’s day, it therefore follows that I should salute one Mr. Murrey.