Darkness: A Prologue
I am always sad, I think. Perhaps this signifies that I am not sad at all, because sadness is something lower than your normal disposition, and I am always the same thing. Perhaps I am the only person in the world, then, who never becomes sad. Perhaps I am lucky.
- Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated
Once again I find myself writing an endless monologue. It claws out of my brain, I have to write it down, otherwise it’l just keep going on and on, and I am starting to get tired of it. So this is something you probably don’t want to read, but it just had to be written. I will try my best to be honest with what I recall, as such some things might be incoherent, for such are memories.
There exists a state in which the body is in continual pain, in which… the body is in perpetual frustration, a state of dread of the day to come. Although my memory is quite blurry, I remember such a state… I was too young at the time, probably around 6-7 year old. My distorted memory only reveals to me in small images, flashes of a young person that could not see, wandering aimlessly at school to find a wall to hold on to. That is all I can remember, the security of walls, and the sight of my feet. I remember it was intense, for at least 4-5 hours at the start of the day, I had to claw my way to school, to the playground in intense pain, pain strong enough to ensure I could not open my eyes fully for at least 3-4 hours a day. I spent my morning tending to my teary eyes and cleaning my nose for hours in pain. This was the start of school day. This was my normal school day. The worst part was, I knew, that the next day, it was going to continue to happen.
And even though it was absent in some days it was constantly there, throughout the years diminishing slowly till I was about 12-13 year old, then it suddenly vanished.
During that time however, I could not get to contact with friends, although I made some, I was surprised that nobody noticed anything, teachers however new that I sometimes could not participate in class, and I had to recopy some notes from other students. But for the most, I don’t remember anything, save being alone. I wasn’t totally alone however, I had only one friend, and I guess being kids, he was much better than the friends I currently have. Kids have a certain curiosity that fades when they grow older. And indeed, when he grew older, our paths crossed and we got separated this was at roughly 12, when classes were shuffled again at school. Looking back at it, this was one of the rare displays of friendships, since it was genuine, everything was genuine, unlike much of the later human interactions i’d have.
Being in the darkness however for all this time, a person changes, and even though I was engaged in activities in school, and in activities during summer, I could never identify or relate to people my age. They seemed to care about other things, and had other concerns. A clear boundary was set, and soon I realized I could not talk to people. I was naive, the people I talked with, often lied to me in order to impress their friends of their creative stories, and I was there getting fascinated by lies. I expected the best of people starting at that age, how naive of me.
People were visiting places, and discovering things, getting cool gifts and great friends. And what was I doing? I was sitting in bed, kicking it repeatedly with my legs to calm the pain of my eyes. Those fateful mornings when it would get worse, where the pain would be intense that I had to keep my eyes closed with icy water or herbs on them to calm the pain. Some rare mornings where I’d skip school, although normally even if the pain was great I used to go there, cross my hands and lie down on the desk just listening to what the teacher was saying, with a bag full of tissues. Pain was familiar, pain was my companion. Yet nobody noticed anything, it was all normal to them, it was all normal to me. We were different, that was valid for the most. I can see that now, not back then.
Yet some random memory remains of a teacher that addressed the class (that was when I was 10 if I recall correctly) and told them: “How can you get such low grades, look at [me] he barely can write down the notes and yet scores very good”. This made me cheer up at the time, it seemed that my effort was being seen by someone, although everyone around me was seeing nothing.
The funny part is, I met that teacher when I became older, 3 years later when I was 13 or probably 14, and I did not recognize the teacher, at all. Shows how much my memory of faces and details is blurred, shows also, that my preoccupation was with darkness, folded hands and ears that could only hear the teachers instead of see them.
I would like to point out at this point, that it wasn’t all that bad, after 1-pm or 2-pm things would normally become normal and the pain would dissipate, but it was for the most, the most intense during the first 3-5 hours when I wake up.
My dad tried everything, being the weary kind, he also went over the limit by trying different doctors, medication, tests, everything was useless and inconclusive. Weekly blood tests were common. Only some eye-drops used to calm the pain, for a while. He even tried superstitious techniques like splitting a bullet on the head and weird things. At age 11, I had an operation to reduce the symptoms of my problems, since the allergy was damaging my inner eye, for the week following the operation, my eyes were the size of ping-ball balls and I could not see for a week since they were swollen. That week, was probably one of the rare weeks, I got to learn a lot of things, I had to depend fully on my hands and spacial memory to move in the house. I went to school with a patched eye and a barely open eye (try opening your eye 2-3mm and see the field of vision you get. Life was harsh, you learn to grow with such a life, but also you learn to grow walls.
Such was my baptism so to say, to know the world for what it really is, I had my first hand experience with the real world, not the world children are confined to, but a world of pain and suffering. And as such, I was different. I seek not your sympathy, spare it for the people who do not learn from suffering. I am very grateful for all of that, even-though at the time, I did not value it as much as I do now.
The only way to overcome sadness is to consume it.
- Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated
I remember I wrote this poem on August 6th, 2009 about the issue:
Laughs and chatter are loose in the air, As children wander buzzing like bees. Leaning on a wall, a child could be seen… His head drowned by a lonely embrace.
Denied of the sky, stripped from his sight Gazing at darkness, right in the eye.. Slowly tortured, whispering a silent cry
How does it feel, to never know when it ends? Why would this torment never end? You ask… But strangely, the boy was angelically calm.. A friend by his side, and on his face… … a smile
The greatest danger, that of losing one’s own self, may pass off as quietly as if it were nothing; every other loss, that of an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife etc., is sure to be noticed.
- Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death