Tag Archives: Death

The Sandman 7: Brief Lives – The Nuances of Metafiction

Brief Lives (The Sandman, #7)Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

<spoiler alert>

This is a fairly straightforward story in an otherwise complex, meandering narrative, probably because this is the turning point for the larger Sandman story leading into its big climax.

It starts by reminding the reader of a sacred, severed head on a desolate Greek island, that has a connection to the Endless family. Leaving the reader with that thought, the story moves on to the thus far neglected character of Delirium, the youngest, most tragic of the Endless. Delirium is in disrepair,  floating bewildered in chaotic surroundings and once mistaking a stranger for her sister Death. Luckily she is rescued (or is that the bystanders who’re rescued?) from her meltdown, by Desire frequenting the same BDSM-themed private party. That Desire’s arena slightly overlaps with Delirium in a place such as this, is the first of many meta-fiction flourishes in this book.

Delirium breaks down (literally into colourful butterflies) before confessing that she misses her brother Destruction. But as neither Desire nor its twin Despair support her quest, Delirium reluctantly goes in search of Dream. Dream is in the throes of heartbreak when Delirium reaches him (another meta-fiction touch). This chapter where the two siblings talk is one of the sweetest, most heart-wrenching pieces in the entire Sandman arc. Even Dream’s forbidding, aloof aura is melted by Delirium’s touching vulnerability and he agrees to aid her on her quest.

The story follows their adventures as they hunt down Destruction’s old friends to seek him out. Every lead runs dry or dies mysteriously. The most wonderful of these stories is their meeting with Ishthar, a strip-club dancer with a history that even a colleague with a degree in Women’s Studies, doesn’t recognize. I loved this story for two ideas that it brought to fore – the origin (and death) of gods and that Love and Destruction are soulmates.

Dream returns from his quest empty-handed and much changed by its experiences. A sibling relationship has been rekindled, a missing sibling found and lost again, a love laid to rest and finally, a prophesy sought and paid for, with dire consequences. As Despair puts it, “You cannot seek Destruction and return unscathed.”

View all my reviews or read just The Sandman reviews.

A Eulogy For My Grandmother

Yesterday was the condolence function that culminates the grieving period. The custom is to sing devotional

“Mrs.Saroja Sundaram. 1930-2012 . 82 years.
Expired from Parkinson’s disease and old age.”

Says the doctor’s writing on the death certificate. I thought that would be the last document written about her, but apparently not.  I get the privilege of speaking about her life and telling her story.

Our most complex relationships are the ones we have with death and with family. One forces us to examine the other and our connections with them.

I have to wonder what connected us other than a branch on the family tree, separated as we were, both by space and time. How well do you really know someone you see once a year, even less in recent times?

She was one half of black-and-white photographs shot in a street corner photo studio, exuding the stiffness and sternness of that era. She was the appropriately dressed, suitably demure/proud smile beside the uniformed man next to her, receiving a medal from the prime-minister. She was a generic Tamilian lady in her diamond nose-stud, her saree with a cardigan and gold bangles. But that’s just peripheral; I’m looking for what made her, her.

She was the oldest of fourteen children. Her father was the first to give his daughters an education so she would have been the first woman high school graduate in her village. I wonder what that must have felt like. Growing up with ten boys may have helped her cope with that. My daily battles against gender discrimination are probably nothing in comparison.

She married late (for the times) at eighteen. It never occurred to me to ask her what that experience was like. And to top it off, she moved from the cocoon of a large family in the South into the complete unknown of Delhi. What must it have been like for a young girl, just barely out of her teens, with 3 small children to set up home in an unfamiliar city, having to cope with different weather, food, people and a new language?

She was close to her mother-in-law; said once that she had been blessed to have another loving mother. It was also her sad privilege to be the one to watch her die. Holding her hand, in her last few minutes, her mother-in-law asked her to read the prayers. And tears flowing from her eyes, my grandmother began reading as the old lady struggled for her last few breaths. Having to face death is one thing. But to look it in the eye and keep going, never stopping, that is not a task for the faint of heart.

I don’t look like her, having taken after my other side of the family in appearance. But she was there when I was born. Even before that, when my parents asked for name ideas, her suggestion won great favor. In the end, I didn’t get that name but 12 years later, her choice was brought out, unused & still cherished, for another granddaughter – Aishwarya.

When I was in school, my interest in art veered in the direction of needlework. That was the school vacation when she taught me to knit and crochet. I sent in my school assignment and promptly forgot about it. Till, years later picking it up again, I found the yarn flowing through my fingers as deftly without lessons. Her voice is in my head when those needles are in my hands.

Speaking of vacations, there was one where she didn’t come to receive us at with the others. Standing at New Delhi station, I saw my mother cry when she was told that my grandmother had had a paralytic attack that left her confined to a wheelchair. I was too young to understand it at the time. She stayed in the wheelchair that whole time we were there. But when we left, she promised my mother that the next time we saw her, she’d be back on her feet. The doctors said it was an act of sheer willpower and courage, that she walked in three months. And on my next vacation, as promised, she was standing at the station.

In 1997, my mother fell ill, each day worsening her condition. It was a particularly bad monsoon in Mumbai, phone lines were down, shops out of stock and our maid had quit. My father and I struggled to keep house and to take care of my mother. Then my grandmother flew in to Mumbai, arriving late in the night. Later she told me that my mother looked like she might not leave the hospital alive. But at the time, she just spoke to my mother of her first air trip alone and the awkwardness of sitting in the front seat of the car, next to her son-in-law. Then she efficiently took charge of the house, the kitchen and my mother’s health. She stayed till my mother came home from the hospital and for three months after that, till mum was up and on her feet again.

The years brought many more challenges for her to weather. Through 2000, we all experienced the soul-searing sting of cancer as it ate into my grandfather, her husband. But five years later, her son, my uncle succumbed to the same disease. We each lost an uncle, a brother, a father. But for it, it must have been the severest blow of all – having to bury a child.  That is the only time I’ve seen her wear that look of defeat. When she held me, crying, my words felt hollow to me as I told her she would have to be strong yet one more time.

Seven years have passed since then, a long time to live with pain, with loss. I will imagine that she made her peace with it. She was always strong-willed. There was never going to be an easy way to go, especially for someone as solid and unshakeable as her. I’d like to believe that eventually, she departed  not like a tree, falling over, but in the way of a mountain, weathering time till it wore away and became one with earth. She wanted so much, got some of it, didn’t get the rest. But she never gave into despair and she never stopped wanting.

I guess that is my answer. She was a rock, a mountain. A pillar of support to her family, immovable to those who opposed as I sometimes did. Mountains are majestic. And this one, she was my grandmother.

A new death

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m feeling the pain of being born. Bloody and blinding and black. It’s anything but clean or comfortable.

And when all that is not pretty has been swabbed and patted dry away, then will be the time for the cooing and the laughter and the light. And mundaneness.

From darkness to light, we go. How odd it is then that it’s only when the murkiest dregs of creation are stripped away from us, do we think of life as beautiful. Birth is a death in its own way.

Today I am dying, as well.

Waiting for the Placenta

Waiting for the Placenta (Photo credit: premasagar)

Dream dust

Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, al...

Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, also known as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Big dreams
crumble to dust
And mix with the debris
of everyday

And tomorrow
or next week
No one will even remember
or know

A life was built here
And tiny victories won
Till a final storm
Blew it all to dust

Before long though,
These shattered, scattered remains
Will mix with the dust
And be the stuff of another dream

Another life,
Hard-won, hard-built
And who knows if that may stand
What this one didn’t?

Tiny Tales: Emderatology

Close to midnight on Saturday, the coffee server on duty reported two dead people in the shop. The couple had been seated in the back booth of the cafe for over three hours, he recalled. When asked why she didn’t report it earlier, she said that she only noticed when he went over to tell them that it was closing time.

Inspector Clue-so deduced that the death must have happened a few minutes prior, when the couple was presented with the bill, since the bodies had not started ‘to steenk up the place and were probably ‘fresh’. This theory however, was dropped when the young server pointed out that both bodies were freezing cold and rigor mortis had set in. The lady, who admits to being a investigor in her sparetime (which she says is more than the time the job takes), was quoted as saying

“They were just sitting there staring at each other. For all I know, they had died ages ago but I just thought they were in love.”

Investigating experts were confounded by the abnormally red colour on the cheeks of the deceased. It was surmised that the excess rush of blood to the face caused the brain to stop functioning. Two slimy, fist-sized objects were also found fallen between the table and the wall, which were later identified as human hearts. Speaking to this publication, the coroner said,

“I must admit I was surprised to see two bodies without hearts inside them. How they came to remove their hearts I will never be able to tell. No wonder they died. Poor things.”

It wasn’t until the police began interviewing the friends of the couple that the truth emerged. The first to come under suspicion was Mr.McMohan, a close pal of the male victim, aided by the fact that his first reference to the victim was that he was staying at his place but was in the toilet at that moment. This charge was however dropped when it was revealed that the victim often used this as an alibi to explain his social activities to his family. On hearing the charge, he confessed that he himself had been in Pune all weekend (even at the time of the call) and could present an alibi but which he requested not be revealed to his family.

Following this train of thought, Inspector Clue-so next went to the best friend of the deceased lady. This was the turning point of the case (and also what salvaged the good Inspector’s career from the wreck of the first hypothesis). The best friend (name withheld on request) explained the history of the two dead people.

“I didn’t even realize that they were still in touch but it must be recent. They haven’t met since they broke up ten years ago. After all the drama is over, you really don’t want to face the person you shared your first awkward kiss with. It’s dreadfully embarrassing meeting that one particular ex-, you know.”

Wrapping up the case, Inspector Clue-so was quoted as saying,

“And ze key to ze mystery was found zere. You see, ze two people entered ze shop separately but it was very crowded. Zen ze spotted each other and thinking eet rude to do ozzerwize, decided to share a table. Zat is why our esteemed young friend behind ze counter does not remember zem coming in together. Ze got to ze table and discussed ze weather and how heeedeeous zis year’s fashion week was.”

The reporter interrupted this account to ask how he arrived at this conclusion and was rewarded with the following explanation.

“Because of zis.”

said Inspector Clue-so holding up a promotional leaflet whose copies were on all the tables of the shop. The image showed a boy and girl both wearing jeans. Both characters bore penmarks on them, depicting a different set of clothing.

“Obviously zey had good taste.”

said the Inspector with a distinct sniff.

“After zat, zey must have run out of topics. Ze young man had just broken up with his girlfriend, as was told to us by his friend in Pune. Ze young lady in turn was considering breaking up with her boyfriend. Zen zey found each other. Eet was like fate! But memories prevailed. Ze embarrassment of zere last encounter and all ze memories of the years after zat. Ze emotions must have been overwhelming. Hysteria built up inside both of zem till zey could take it no more! Both of zem blushed and blushed till zere hearts could take it no more and then zere hearts jumped out of zere mouths at the same time! And zey died of extreme embarrassment!”

As a reward for her help, the young coffee server has been deputed to be a trainee under the brilliant Inspector, starting next Monday.

————————————————————————

Note: The science of embarrassment is called emderatology.

What The Cards Say

Someone recently asked me if I would do a tarot reading for them. I found a polite way to decline and recommended a friend who does this and related things for a living. Then they asked if this person was any good, whether it would work. And I had trouble finding an answer.

It took my two weeks and it came to me during a break in between reading Death: The High Cost of Living, when I was brushing my teeth (as many such wonderful ideas and solutions to life-changing problems often do). The words scrolled through the teleprompter inside my head and I saw what I had to say and even what I would think but not say.

“She is a good friend. I’ve learnt alongside her. I’ve read for her, with her and she’s read for me. But any tarot reader, astrologer, trainer, adviser, psychiatrist or even physician – they are all only guides and no one can know what is happening inside you better than yourself.

My friend sincerely believes in what she does and that’s the best I can say, with certainty. They do say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Yet, how else can we survive? Hopes, our own and other people’s, serve as guiding lights on this path. The best we can do is keep our eyes open and pick out our steps. Or if seeing is so painful, you can choose to walk blind, holding on to other people’s guidance. But if you do, how can you be sure the other person isn’t walking blind, using your outstretched hands as guidance too?”

I hold reason, cold rationale in one hand and the flowing cup of belief in the other. My life is a constant balance between these two and occasionally the remnants of other beliefs that have passed through the cup. I wouldn’t believe in something that I didn’t first examine and learn to do for myself. But that’s just me. Seeing is hurtful but walking blind is downright scary. I dare not close my eyes.

I thought of all this and so I wrote it down. Because there is much to remember and everything is already known. But sometimes I forget and so I leave little reminders for myself to serve as guidance in my moments of blindness. Or forgetfulness. Or just faithlessness. I pick a card, I pick a memory.

Neil Gaiman’s Delirium in Sandman: Endless Nights

Annie-Mal & A Girl Called Chris

While every day brings new books, every visit to the bookstore results in a fresh wave of delight, I’m drawn to my memories of certain books that once possessed me. Every book has a story and is also part of another story, its relationship with the reader. How can I possibly express what I feel about a book, unless I tell you how and why it happened to me?
I picked up Marg Nelson’s A Girl Called Chris at the raddiwalla. (I refrain from preceding that with ‘friendly neighborhood’ owing to the fact that he once hit on me). It had a plain white cover with an image on the bottom-left corner which on scrutiny revealed itself to be a sort of modern artsy rendition of a girl in colourful slacks slouching as if in a corner.

The story was simple but rather extraordinary. A young girl who has just finished school and doesn’t have money for the college she wants after losing her father. In search of employment, she lands up – in all places – a cannery. And amidst stuffing tuna fish into cans, she finds friendship, resolution, love, confidence and some life lessons. It was a sweet coming-of-age story and it was perfect because I was about the same age as the protagonist (a girl called Chris) when I read it.

The year I turned seventeen, my mother was hospitalized after a long illness. She was under care for nearly three weeks and then recuperating for another two months. Caring for her was more than a fulltime job and we struggled to handle it. Tempers were short and I was at the depth of my own adolescent angst. It was a dark, heavy period in my life. The monsoons were particularly heavy that year, our phone line kept going down and we didn’t have household help. In sum, while my father ran from doctor to lab to hospital, I struggled to manage housework, groceries and cooking, the biggest bane of them all. I think my fear of the kitchen came from that time since my early experiences are tinged irrevocably with a sense of dread, fear and worry.

I’d have my lunch at college and then get to the hospital to wait till 4pm for visiting hours. Patients were only allowed one accompanying person and my father or grandmother would be by her side. I remember one particular day when I got to the hospital a half-hour early. I sat down on a bench in the little patch of grass facing the building. And then it started to rain. I had forgotten my windcheater in class that day. There was nowhere else to shelter. So I sat under the tree, not flinching from the water, almost grateful for the cold drops that covered me from head to toe. It was one of the few times I felt something and something that didn’t hurt.

Once inside, I would sit with my mother for about an hour. Then when she had other visitors, I’d walk around the hospital, especially the pediatrics ward, hoping the freshness of that place would lift my mood. Most days it did. Except when, after days of watching an incubator baby, I found it empty and the child’s mother, an omnipresent feature next to it, gone as well. One dead and the other, who knows where?

I turned my footsteps in the opposite direction for the rest of my mother’s stay in the hospital. One day a young girl dressed like a patient in hospital white entered mum’s room and backed out immediately with a worried expression on her face. I saw her sitting at the nurses station often after that and even the surly nurses would be smiling as they spoke to her. One day I smiled at her and thereafter we’d chat everyday.

Annie was from London, she said. She was two years older than I was. She had had several boyfriends though ‘none lasted beyond a week or two’, she admitted with a rueful grin. Her parents called her ‘Anne-molle’ (Malayalam for little girl) and her brother called her Annie-mal. Sometimes I’d see her pirouetting or turning circles with a solemn expression, in front of the wall mirror in the nurses station. She said she had taken ballet lessons and was practicing.

I was clutching A Girl Called Chris one evening, having finished the last pages as I sat in the visitors lobby waiting for her. She came and sat down next to me and took it from my hands without a word and turned it over. When we finished our chat and got up, she took it with her.

Mum and grandmother who saw her through most of the day hours thought she was slightly ‘off’ in the head. Nurses’ gossip later brought in the news that she had been assaulted by her father and had run away from home.

The day my mother was discharged, I took a round tour of the hospital again, with even a shuddering glance at the pediatric ward. And at the end of it, as a special occasion, I went to Annie’s room. She was sitting on the bed, talking to one of the nurses as she nodded in my direction. I waited for a pause in the conversation then told her that I was leaving. She got up, came over and hugged me, an action that surprised me since I wasn’t used to physical affection with my friends. Then I asked her for the book. She looked puzzled and then she seemed to remember. She looked under her bed and on the table and then told me blankly that she couldn’t find it. No problem, I shrugged and told her to take care of herself.

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to ask her for her contact details. Or to visit her in the hospital later. I liked her. Perhaps I was a little scared of what I had heard about her past, even though she had never discussed it with me. But most likely I was just frozen into a suspended state of being and couldn’t feel anything human for a long time after that.

I never forgot Annie though. I miss my book also but I can’t think of it without also remembering Annie. And for what little it is worth, perhaps the spark of joy that the story brings is worth more to her than to me.

~O~O~O~O~O~

Marg Nelson’s A Girl Called Chris doesn’t seem to be well-known as its one Amazon entry doesn’t even have an accompanying image of the cover. I did find an entry on GoodReads with an image though it’s not the one that was on my book. I’d really love to read this book again so if any of you knows where I can find a copy, please do get in touch.

I Must Be Dreaming

What a strange dream that was.

Do you ever wonder what your dreams mean? Of course you do, everyone does. There’s a whole genre of study devoted to understanding the interpretation of dreams – from the scientific, medical point of view as well as the esoteric, mystical side. One of the most succint opinions I’ve ever heard on this subject comes from my father,

Dreams are the brain flushing out the waste that it accumulates during the day.

Not to say that I believe that. Well, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Belief is always a convenience thing with me.

I have loads of flying dreams, which Freud claims are about sex. Heh. Whatever.

I occasionally dream of thatha (who by the way, passed away 9 years back). I never dream of him dead or even as a ghost…in that, inside my dream I don’t seem to remember that he’s no more. I open the door and he’s dropped into Mumbai for a surprise visit; I’m arguing with him about something; I’ve received a birthday card from my folks in Delhi with (as was usual that time) a folded piece of paper inside it which is a letter from him. It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling to be able to say that my grandfather is alive and well in my dreams.

Then there are the dreams of people long past. An ex-boyfriend, a former best friend and occasionally even people I’ve loathed (like the bullies from school…yuurrrggh). Funnily enough in my dreams, I’m getting along like a house on fire with them. We’re usually laughing, talking, partying and having very intelligent, fun, fulfilling times together. Ah, so that’s what the originator of the phrase ‘only in your dreams!’ was thinking. 🙂

Once in a rare bit there’s a dream of something that really did happen in the past, only things turn out slightly differently. Like we’re walking down a road which on wakefulness, I remember having done. But instead of taking a left like we actually did, we take a right in my dream. Of course that’s metaphorical but hey, you don’t really need to know the exact details of my dreams! Come to think of it, it’s not like even I remember them.

I dream the most when I’m going through some intensely difficult times in my life. A family emergency, a troubled relationship, a stressful time at work – these have been my optimal dreamtimes.

Of course I would have dreamt deeply last night. My mother has been hospitalized this week, after all and discharged only to relapse later. All of this while I am alone, facing the maid-from-hell and water problems. But of course. I will talk about this particular dream though.

Last night, my first online time in about 3 days, I looked into Facebook. I was shunning chat requests from friends online because I just didn’t feel like talking. I could probably have spent some mindless time playing Mafia Wars. But instead I chose to go picking on old scabs. I looked up people from the past (yes, yes, I do that. Everyone does.) whom I’d probably not consider adding to my Friends List for various reasons. No ex-es though, that’s been done to death way enough. But old classmates, friends-of-friends, people I met at a party 2 months back who don’t remember me this week (but I remember them because they’re journos and their pic appears next to their column)…that kind of people.

And in this random melee, I found her. She was the stuff of my nightmares. She partly inspired this post (though I also had a more current, more tangible version to contend with at the time of writing). I’ve never met her, spoken to her or seen her in real life. It’s all in the photographs and memories of his memories. At least what he told me about her. I was intrigued by her, then jealous, then resentful and finally just in pain. I have no idea whether there was any truth in what he said, which means I might be pinning all these emotions on a fictitious character. All I know is her name. That’s good enough to locate a person in this Facebooked age. We’ve got a couple of common FFs (Facebook friends). I haven’t looked her up in ages. On a whim I shot off a message to her, introducing myself. No friendship request though. And then I logged out.

In my dream, she said that contrary to what I thought, she knew of me as well. Then we ceased to talk about how we came to be talking in the first place. She made me laugh though I don’t remember what at. All I know is that she was fun. I believe we were having some sort of picnic somewhere and then had to run away or something. Okay, that sounds even sillier in writing than it does in my thoughts.

I told Astra the other day that sometimes a dream was just a simulation of a real world situation, something that needed to be faced anyway. And we could do it in a dream, play around, take a few risks with our imagination too, just to experience what we may not dare to, in real life. How about that? I never considered having fun with someone I might have such an awkward connection with. Whether I do in real life or not, is immaterial. I just know that in my dreams, I did. And in the end, how does it matter whether we played it out in the conscious universe or the subconscious one?

I have to end this on a cliche, I’m the queen of cliches after all.

You may say I’m a dreamer.

You really may, I won’t take offense.

Three-Quarterly Review

While everyone in the accounts departments sits heavy on numbers and does a stock-taking quarter-by-quarter of the year that was, it occurs to me to do the same with my life. Except this is a three-quarterly review. Of my 29th year.

I’ll be 30 this July and it’s an odd thing but instead of feeling 29, I’ve been feeling ‘one away from 30’. It’s like the way numbers are counted in Hindi where 19, 29 and so on are one less than the nearest 10-multiple. Okay forget that, yes, it is the big Three-O looming up ahead. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a big deal (yes, even if I know theoretically it shouldn’t be, life begins at 30 yada yada…). I’m human after all and there’s so much swirling in my head, I’m not waiting till July to write about it. And thus begins the 30 diaries – a special set of features on the experience of hitting 30.

So what has been happening these last three quarters of my one-away-from-30 year? Plenty.

Love life: A non-boyfriend and a non-relationship. The customary one-in-a-few years check in on someone that went off well. Ask no questions and hear no lies. A few crushes-that-go-nowhere. A pang.

Travel: I visited two new countries. My first visit to Europe (well I’ve been to London but that was on work and I had no sight-seeing or fun) and my first time on a cruise as well. I didn’t write enough of about it. Frown.

Career: I changed jobs. Well, technically I’m still with the same company but in a completely different role, practically a 180 degree turn. Do I like it? I’m still trying to figure it out. I don’t hate it. Yet.

Media: I got featured in the press a few times. Only once accurately. These journos, what to tell ya… 😀

Death: I’ve attended two funerals, both within a fortnight of each other. One, my best friend’s father who succumbed after a long and difficult struggle. The other, a wonderful and dear colleague whom I still miss.

Interests: My favorite bookstore was shut for 4 months on account of a fire. I received books and only books as birthday gifts. A book-voucher as a gift from a reader. And another as a V-day gift. 🙂

I’ve written and written and written. (Yet another) group-blog. I didn’t contribute to the Kala Ghoda Gazette this year despite attending the festival.

Every now and then I remember that I used to paint. And promise myself that I’ll take it up again. Still waiting.

Last night I dreamt that I went on stage to sing. That was after facing numerous hurdles like the compere scheduling me without telling me, a new compere not letting me on stage, the orchestra packing up (wherein I begged and begged the restaurant musicians to back me up and they did), another guy sabotaging my audience by paying them off, a semi-drunk wandering up on stage and ruining my song by singing off-key. Oddly I ended the song with my back to the audience but they gave me a loud encore. Wherin I woke up. So another reminder. I used to sing too. And I used to sing well, not just in the bathroom. Ah, the lives that we let go of with the choices we make!

Health: Twice in seven months, I had major health scares – arthritis and spondilitis. Both of them turned out to be indicative of calcium deficiency caused by a Vitamin D deficit. I didn’t know whether to laugh or frown when the final prognosis was,

Worry less and get out in the sun more often!

Ironic that very morning I remarked that,

I’ve turned into one of those horrible people who feels guilty about taking a day off from work, even if it is sick leave.

Ironic turns to miraculous when I remember that a decade ago I dropped a year from college, without remorse or second thought. When did I turn into super-efficient whizkid? This isn’t me, this so isn’t who I am.

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