You Mean You’re Going to Stitch Up My Wrist?

BEN and Jerry’s strawberry cheesecake ice-cream tastes better in a porcelain bowl, especially if it’s the glossy kind. Melamine bowls tend to melt the ice cream much faster. Besides, if you really wanted to enjoy your ice-cream, why not go all out? Which was exactly what I did one morning over the December holidays.

I picked the choicest bowl, the prettiest one in the kitchen cabinet. And since it has hardly ever been touched, I gave it a rinse, then a quick dry with two sheets of tissue. Blame it on the tissue or blame it on my fingers, the bowl slipped right out of my hands. As if in slow motion, I reached forward and bent low to try and catch it. Next thing I knew, a sharp pain jabbed at my left wrist on the pinkie finger side. The bowl had shattered and everything came to a standstill, except the wound in my wrist.

I peered at it and caught a glimpse of white in the wound. Oh my, is that the color of flesh? Then the white began fading away amid the red ooze. There was blood, lots of it. It wasn’t trickling, it was flowing. In our mad rush out the house to the clinic, all we had was a messy stack of tissue paper stanching the wound.

The clinic doctor did nothing much except to bandage the wound and ship me off to Ng Teng Fong hospital. This isn’t looking good, I thought. And the long wait didn’t help. After forty-five minutes, my number beeped on the digital panel and I walked right into a room where a pimple-faced doctor smiled at me.

He’s just the kind of doctor you need in times like this. He showed genuine interest in my love for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and commiserated with me: “Oh, that’s too bad, you didn’t even get to eat your ice cream!”

I froze when he pulled out a syringe. The needle went right into the wound not outside, and contrary to his promise that it would feel like an ant bite, it felt like ten ants biting in cruel harmony, long and hard. Then I froze again. This time, he whipped out a gleaming, menacing pair of scissors, brand new from a sealed see-through plastic wrap.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s just for cutting some parts,” he said casually, “so that I can see if there’re any other tiny bits from the broken bowl.”

By “some parts,” he simply meant skin and flesh. He snipped them off neatly, exposing the wound even more, which was still happily bleeding. This time, thank goodness, it felt like three ant-bites. Despite the anesthetic injection, the ten-ant-bite would return again, when he started showing off his sewing skills: five stitches to fix the gaping one-inch wound. Each time the needle poked into the flesh, the ten nasty ants bit hard, real hard. This was followed by a hollow, ticklish feeling of thread traveling through flesh.

Everything felt like a movie with me in the starring role. Would I ever have imagined that I could muster the courage to witness all this with my own eyes—first-hand, close-up, in technicolor? I could well have turned away and not look, but I looked, I did look.

No one wants to run into accidents, but accidents are just what they are. They catch you by surprise, they even test you. Life-changing moments are the same. They make you come away realizing you’re braver and stronger than you think.

Had it not been for my Ben and Jerry’s moment, would I have had the opportunity to shine, really shine, like a beautiful porcelain bowl and a steely, strong girl all at once?

(637 words)

Faith Yang, Primary Four
April 2016

For more essays by Faith, visit Faith Writes.

This essay was written in response to the theme “life-changing experience.”


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