Unlike others who preferred creating nonsensical doodles, I fancied writing my thoughts on paper using my left hand, but due to my awesome talent to do continuous cartwheels, I broke it when I was six.
I was excited to show off; my arms were extended as if reaching for a tree branch, and my feet were giddy to come off the ground. My friends were aghast as I did one cartwheel after another. When I was about to finish my third, a female with huge hips and bouncy ass passed by and unconsciously bumped me, so I fell. I never felt anything until my friend who had been awed at first was horror-stricken, and he shouted, “Hala Sergei! Ang kamay mo!”
I looked at it, and saw that my left arm had formed an “L” shape.
And then, like any other kid who has seen a Tiyanak, I cried as if that arm never belonged to me. I cried some more at the hospital when the doctor painstakingly pulled my arm and heartlessly wrapped a cold, wet bandage to straighten my abnormal-looking body part. He cemented my left arm as my mother tried shutting me up because I screamed every time my arm was pulled. I felt bushed after that. Not exhausted because of the yelling, but frustrated because I could no longer write with my left hand.
At that time, I never thought writing could be excruciating when it was therapeutic for me before my acrobatic fall. Seeing my fractured arm caused me to have flashbacks of the accident whenever I make decisions because of my fear to be forced to let go of certain attachments. This was when I realized that Isaac Newton was right: there is always a reaction when there is an action.
I always loved Science when I was young. I remembered my aunt who’d force me to read the entire set of encyclopedias at home, which I did, by the way. Later on gave up after realizing that I didn’t understand a thing. But my interest in Science never waned; in fact, I was so engrossed with Isaac Newton’s discoveries when I was six that I accepted all of his theories as true right after I tried the famous “apple test”. I used to write about this in my little journal too, but things were never the same when I became a righty. I refused to write.
Two weeks after my accident, I got jealous of my classmates who could color pictures perfectly. I, on the other hand, kept on coloring outside the area of a simple shape because my right hand didn’t want me to control it. Only then did I pluck some courage to practice my right. It was so difficult that I often cried just because I could not write my name as clearly as I did when I used my left. It was a decision I made because I wanted my life to be normal again as I got tired of my teachers copying notes for me, and my brother doing my coloring homework. I was apprehensive at first because people might pity me more, but I went on taming my right hand to regain what I was good at before.
Eventually, I grew up fine using my right hand. But when the hardened bandage was taken off, my left hand never functioned normally again. I even thought it was an implant because it never looked the same. And it was then that I realized that I had made the right decision to be a righty.
It took eleven years for another day of reckoning to happen. At age seventeen, I had a dream about my teeth falling. It happened fast as the upper set just plummeted in to my hands. I sulked upon seeing my teeth, but I was dumbfounded after I was able to attach them again to my gums. When I looked at my surroundings, it was a familiar room brightened by a light bulb that made the room look yellowish. I saw one of my closest friends there, but I couldn’t remember what happened right after that. I didn’t want to believe the interpretation.
I knew my father was ill, but I chose to go out with my close friends one night. I thought about the only “what if” I had in mind then. Truth be told, I wanted to go home while waiting for the rest of my friends at a local restaurant, but they arrived just before I got myself a cab. I reckoned that I should enjoy a little chat with them instead before our glorious high school graduation. It became a memorable night, which became even more unforgettable when I received information about my father’s death, the “what if” I was worrying about. He had died of cardiac arrest. I felt dead after that. Not exhausted because of laughing too hard, but guilty because I had spent the night with my friends instead of being beside my father.
That night was as painful as the time I heard his heart throb madly. I knew heartbeats weren’t supposed to be loud, but his were deafening. Every cardiac echo should have meant life, but for his case, it meant he was approaching death. I still don’t know exactly what happened when he died because I refused to listen to the whole story, but what I know is that he cried. That was enough to make me feel guilty for leaving him alone. I felt pain in its most agonizing definition, but as I moved closer to his body, I was determined not to cry because I wanted his angel to see my father’s good looking son. I sat on his bed, and all I said to him was sorry. I knew that dream had something to tell me. I knew that when you dream of your teeth falling, somebody close to you will die. That night, I was in the yellowish room and I was with my close friend. And that night as well, my father died. Losing him felt the same as when my left hand failed to write my name clearly: I think I lost my identity.
At present, the feeling of “the end of the world” is no longer new to me, but I must say that my decisions have determined my own apocalypses: I chose to show off and spend time with my friends, and in turn, I lost something very dear to me. I badly wanted to write with my left hand because I felt more talented, and I seriously wanted to go home because I sensed my father needed me, but these things that I wanted most left me heartbroken. Such desires wore me out and wrecked my life, especially when I figured I could not take those things back. One drama series got me thinking: “as tough as wanting something can be, the one who would suffer most is the one who doesn’t know what he or she wants.”
Two years ago, I decided to give up my dream to study in Ateneo because I wanted to please my father by studying in UP Mindanao. This was the only way I knew how to move on. I thought that I had made another poor decision when I discovered my new abode in the boondocks. But later on, I realized that I had made the right decision because it is in this university that I am able to follow the footsteps of my father. I got into things that could have really made my father proud: the debating team and the university paper – things I knew he wanted me to join, and for that, I am contented with my decision to stay in UP.
When I was asked, “when will you stop rectifying your mistake?” I didn’t know how to answer it; perhaps I got bowled over by the term ‘mistake’. But I was leaning on being able to use my left hand again to write, although my father would have found it silly for me to be ambidextrous. After giving much thought about it, I said, “I’ll stop when I’ve already made a name for myself in a particular career. That is what my father wanted, and one day, he would be grinning big time because I stuck to that promise.”
I think Isaac Newton was right about actions and reactions. It seems that everything in life is a trade-off. However, I figure that he is wrong in saying that “for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.” There are foolish barters – exchanges that are almost always not of equal value. I’m tired of always being at the losing end of the transaction, so I hold on tight to the things that I have, careful not to barter them unwisely, again.
Sergei C. Reyes is a BA Communication Arts Student from UP Mindanao. He is from General Santos City.