It was my little nephew that I had missed most amongst them all. Feeding him, playing with him, the way he clung onto me like my very own baby and the intoxicating baby smell. We are inseparable. The idea was to be home for the weekend, get back to school on Monday morning and prepare for Tuesday’s early morning cat. But that was not to happen.
We had our typical back and forth conversations of him telling me not to leave him, and me promising I would come back the following weekend. He started tearing up, and almost immediately broke into a fit of weeping asking why I had to leave. What I had missed was suddenly turning to be somehow a problem. I had a paper to read for. I delayed my exit for an hour, played around the house and let him calm down. I then walked out. He followed me crying and clung on. Sad as it was to leave, I had to. I opened the gate, kissed him on the forehead, walked out and promised to see him soon. I then closed the gate, unaware that he had stuck his thumb between the hinges. His scream broke me, I could not leave him crying like that. I opened the gate to reassure him I would come, but oblivious of the fact that I had traumatically amputated his thumb. Then the blood, the flattened thumb, the unbearable pain and the tears. His left thumb was literally falling off,and my little one is left handed!
Much as I was breaking apart and totally shaken by the accident, I did not have the time to cry. I had to act on the spot. Without thinking about the current circumstances surrounding us, without even calling the mom to ask for the way forward, I rushed him to the nearby Mater clinic. Just like I had feared, the case was too severe for their action. They are swift, and very empathetic. They sedated him and set an ambulance. We were transferred to the main hospital and a reconstructive surgery scheduled for the afternoon. I spoke to his dad first and called him over. For the first time, I was scared to talk to my sister. How would I explain my obvious negligence and lack of intuitive instincts that had caused so much pain to their child? How would I even break the news without crashing her and getting her too troubled? But I needed her more than anyone else, at least to tell her how sorry I was. She came sooner than I expected.
“It’s okay hunnie, accidents happen all the time. No on plans for them. You should be happy it wasn’t worse.”
“But I should have been more…” I was struggling to hold back tears unsuccessfully.
“He’s a baby, babies sometimes get really bad accidents. He’ll be fine pretty soon. Keep calm”…
To date, those have been the most encouraging words given at perfectly the right time, from perfectly the right person. I have incredible respect for the strength in this girl. I still have the phobia of locking doors though. I have never gotten over the images of his crashed thumb. Sometimes, I have to close a door and I only imagine crashing bones and baby screams replay disturbingly in my head. He’s now fine, totally healed and we are still each others favorites.
Like every other writer, I ask myself what the purpose of this story is, and who it is that I am addressing.
It was meant to transform our approach to challenges and misfortunes: Focusing on the bright side regardless of the circumstances we are in, and realizing that it could always get worse even when you are distraught and thinking you have had enough hurt and pain. I am speaking to those of us who have found ourselves in unfortunate unforeseen circumstances. Victims of road carnage, terrorism and tribal clashes. Survivors of fire outbreaks, floods and collapsed buildings. People who lost their all but their souls in gang robberies, people juggling with disputes, broken relationships and domestic violence, families with members sunk in drug abuse or fighting terminal diseases. I am preparing future victims and the consequential affected parties of the aforementioned situations to always remember to face the bright side. You might once or twice doubt the biblical promise in Jeremiah 29:11. (For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future). Sometimes life will lose meaning. But however much the tribulations, keep your hope for better days alive. No smooth sail ever made great sailors. In life, it is never about what you went through, but how you went through it. So smile and be happy: in despair, trials and in pain. Embrace the fact that contentment and cheerfulness are both like breathing in life: not part of the process, but the process.