She Toppled the Brick Wall

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Roy, He Said “Ball”


He looked, his eyes focused upon this one thing. His finger stuck out of his hand, which stuck out his arm, which stuck out his torso, which stuck out his other body part which I don’t know the name of. He was different, but I was too ignorant to realize. I never really knew he had what my parents called a “genetic disorder”. All I saw was a sweet boy who never stopped smiling despite that “genetically disordered” overly extensive long face and giant ears, and his feet swooping up and down because they were abnormally flat; his hands were small and stubby, attempting to grasp on whatever it could find. It could not grab anything. All I knew was that he was the boy I called Roy.


His lips puckered up and his tongue stuck out, then in, then out again. A word came out; after 4 long years of silence, worrying, and pain, and agony he said something, something. Then, out came the vomit of words. He said, “bah”, then “balah”, then the broken record paused. “Ball”, he cried out. “Ball”. His suspicious slurred spastic speech made us skeptical. After 4 long years of silence. A genetic disorder. “Ball”, he cried. “Ball”.
Who would expect any more from a 12-year-old child with big aspirations, even greater determination, a small brain and still so little opportunity? His fingers would grip the sporadic chance he encompassed and it would catalyze -- right before his eyes. I never knew what it was like to grow up with a normal brother and as apathetic as I sound calling him “abnormal” I’ve been faced with the brick wall of reality, that the only way to crumble the brick wall down to a pile of worn out sediments is to accept reality for the way it is.
It’s virtually impossible -- trust me, I’ve tried.


The ironic truth of reality is that whenever people are forced to encounter it they “shrink”. They shrink so small that the whole world seems to engulf the flesh and bones which you spent years trying to perfect for this moment and all the sudden this enormous brick wall topples down leaving you trapped in the crevices to the abyss which you feared you would encompass and you tried to prevent it by working to perfect yourself and now you are trapped getting ready to get swallowed by the world.


That’s what it’s like. Now imagine not even being able to find where you stand on this planet, or worse - who you are on this planet. Welcome to reality. The land of crushed hopes and dreams.


My Crushed Reality


“There are those who learn to live, and those who live to learn,” she paused, “which is why I will be assessing you on a daily basis along with assigning a MINIMUM of 4 hours of homework a night until you all become people who live to learn.”. Dr. Laurel was a strange character. Despite her tall, virtually stellar and aesthetically appealing diploma from Harvard University that hung up high on her wall below her name as though symbolizing that she was superior to the highly reputable Harvard University, I still wasn’t convinced that this woman wasn’t a charlatan. Her first words, clever. What followed however completely threw me off. I guess a classroom filled of Yale University freshmen didn’t convince her enough that we were intellectually competent enough to be, might I quote, “those who live to learn”. And as much as I may have denied it as a child, I was a zealous learner with mounting aspirations who would pour over stories like Adam and Eve or the Mahabharata. I think I’m far beyond “those who live to learn”. I fall under the category of “those who are already dead from learning too much”.


I’ll admit, she’s intelligent -- or more so, experienced. But I refuse to accept her. She has an aura which forces you to belittle yourself to no more than a pathetic scrap on a dirt road -- and I have to deal with her for 4 long and mind-wrenchingly depressing years. Great.


Aside from Dr. Laurel, the general lecture hall was populous with diverse students -- from paper white to night-sky black (not to be racist) as I fall under the category of sand-paper -- tan-white. I have assumed that all the students in this “class” are ardent learners of Neurology - and then you have me. Me, who is only taking the class for the sake of taking the class. Me, who couldn’t care less about Neurology or the human anatomy to any extent. Me, who got accepted into Yale only because I was first in the most obscure county in Illinois in creative writing and I represented all the other Mexicans who didn’t stand a chance. Me, who tried to help her brother. Me, who failed.


The question may come up -- if I didn’t give a blank about taking neurology, then why did I take it? Here’s the answer -- pity.


I wanted to major in Law and Journalism and selected ALL my courses primarily based on Law and Journalism. Then, I got the “pity call” from my mother who questioned my genuity when I wasn’t taking a science course. She pulled the “don’t you want to help your brother?” on me and I had no other choice. So, I said “sure”.
Big mistake.


May the truth be told -- I am literally the most empty-minded person in the world when it comes to science. You have someone like Albert Einstein or Sir Isaac Newton and you have me - Vivian Vasquez - who doesn’t know the difference between a proton and a nucleus of a cell. In my eyes, if they are both round, they’re the same. And now, you have a teacher like Dr. Laurel who will ask me a question while I’m sleeping and ruin my reputation for the sake of it. She seems like the person who would do that. Why not.

The Stones Rolled Down Hill


My life is a black hole. No. It’s much worse. I have a black hole in the pit of my stomach sucking up all the organs, nutrients, and bones inside my shameful skin. All my pride, pain, sorrows, joy, gone. I’m emotionless. Hopeless. I’ve ruined the good name of my family, dishonored my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents…. Roy will look down on me as though I am scum on the dirt road of life. He’ll look down and see his sister who couldn’t do anything but lament over her own problems and not once think about the brother who has no control over his emotions and actions as the world has no control over him. His disorder is unstoppable, just like him. And I let him down.


“You’re taking this way too far, Vivian. It’s literally one test. One Test. Besides, you never wanted to take Neurology in the first place! Who cares! Your parents are very proud of you! What are they going to do? Huh? Disown you?”


She’s ignorant. Elizabeth Caston sits next to being overly optimistic and downright unrealistic. And she sits next to me in Dr. Laurel’s class and has the brain of a five-year-old child who knows nothing about the outside world. God knows how she got into Yale. But, she’s an interesting character herself. Her almond-green eyes, sophisticated maroon hair, and oversized sweaters all help her appear less vacuous than she actually is. And yet she got a 95% on the Neurology exam today. I however, did not. Let’s just say I got somewhere between a 0% and a 20%. Like a solid 16%.


The exam was virtually impossible. As expected, Laurel expected her students to perform surgery on the textbook (or in other words, scrutinize our Neurology 101 book) for that “live to learn” trash and me, thinking that I was actually smart, I decided to skim the chapter.


Bigger mistake.


That thing was like 50 pages long! Besides, I was too busy doing other stuff like procrastinating and eating. Anyway (I digress), back to the test. Her questions were so irrationally specific that I was willing to rip up the exam right in front of Dr. Laurel’s eyes and walk out of the class. 20 questions of utter BS. And to make matters worse, after the exam was finished some doofuses kept on complaining that the exam was “too easy” and that Dr. Laurel was being “too kind” to them. I’ll remember to carry a bat to class next time I see them. Trust me, it won’t be pretty.


When mama called 2 hours after my lamentation was over, I was ashamed to even use my voice. But, I was forced to pick up -- otherwise I’d be getting endless calls from an overly perturbed mother during classes (and that’s the last thing I need to top off my problems). “Hey ma. What’s happenin’.”. My voice sounded like a dead person trying to talk. “Oh Vivvy! You’ll never believe it! Your father got 1st place in the turnip contest! 5 feet in diameter - or whatever that means… Maybe we can use his prize money to pay for your brother’s treatment! And now that we have Dr.Vasquez to help us cause she’s a good girl taking neurology, Roy will be better in no time! Oh! Isn’t this great!” She never stops babbling. “And by the way my dear, how was your exam? Hmmm…?” Shoot. God. Crud. I was road-kill. I was lost on what to say - especially because of her zealous hopefulness in me and dad’s apparent winning vegetable. I was trapped, so I just, well, talked. “Ma, I’ll be honest. I failed with a 16 percent and I’m sorry I stink at neurology. Tell dad I said congrats. Bye.”. And so, I hung up. I’m done. Goodbye false happiness, hello darkness - my old friend.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


A little insight into my parents. Ma and Dad didn’t finish high school and live in the rowdiest side of town in Cook County, Illinois. Dad is a farmer and owns a small vegetable business where he wakes up every morning at 4:00 sharp to feed the cows, chickens, horses, some other animals which I don’t care enough about, and Ma stayed home with Roy - thinking that he’d magically become better overnight if she stayed with him.
Ma’s one of those people who can’t accept things for how they are. One time we were in the TSA security check line at the airport and Ma was forced to remove her shoes. Now, I can’t blame any TSA Agent for growing cynical around a Mexican woman whose name is Josefina Rodriguez-Vasquez who grew up in the rowdiest city in Illinois, so she just had to take her shoes off. That’s just how things are.


Boy.


This woman began yelling out at these TSA agents as though she was a 16-year old fighting with her mother, screaming out curse words in Spanish, using threatening hand gestures, making a fool of herself, ruining every Mexican’s and my reputation. It got so bad that I actually feared that Ma would beat the pulp out of those poor Agents - yeah, I feared for the TSA Agents that a 54-year old woman would make them black-and-blue. After a much prolonged battle, she got her way. It took a few police officers, the manager of the Chicago O’Hare Airport, a crowd of nosy people, and a bundle of cowardly-shivering TSA Agents, but she still got her way.
And I was genuinely ashamed to be her daughter.

“Personal Issues”


I have OCD. No one believes it. I tell mom, she says it’s a phase. I tell dad, he says it’s my hormones. I tell my friends; they say it’s stress. I tell Google, it says everything. I tell my doctor; she says it’s OCD. No one believed me. I told them, “no! It’s not a phase!”. They didn’t listen. They thought I was tough. They said I could fight it. They said they knew me inside-out.


But they were all wrong.


They thought that a girl who made sure every first step was with the right foot otherwise all steps would be cursed and she’d walk to the door of doom and bad-luck and misery, who would cautiously look right before left, who feared the number 13 and avoided the number 7 to be safe, who never stepped on a crack, who scrutinized the vicinity for black cats, who screamed when she got a scratch on her laptop symbolizing her defeat, who never stopped crying in agony and anguish over the materialistic world, was normal.


But they were wrong. All wrong.


I entered Yale 2 years ago and I hate myself. I’ve over-analyzed every toss and turn and tumble and my mind is now a broken set of cords and wires all scattered on the floor of papers looking for its file but can’t find it. I used to be happy. I used to be happy. I used to love myself. I used to enjoy seeing my face every morning.
The first thing I see every morning is a bottle of Prozac sitting on the left corner of the wooden cabinet that is about to topple and shatter like me; I see my beat up, morose, dead face with red scars of dead skin and angry waves of lava penetrating from my inner core, but the fire cannot reach my mouth enough to say, “I want to die”.


I don’t want to die. I can’t. I have a family. I have dreams. I have education. I have love. I have emotions. I have a little boy watching his sister in his memories remembering her name, remembering her smile and the days she used to spend playing with him, but never seemed to comprehend the situation. I have Roy.
And I cannot leave Roy.






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SimKakkar said...
May 12 at 5:59 pm
This is the author. Here is the next part/ "chapter" to STTBW Escape           If the scratches on my bare flesh don’t give enough of a hint that I’m dying, then I don’t know what does. Death. The word itself is so cold, but its embrace is so warm. I can feel it within my grasp, inching closer and closer to the exposed blood which, ever so slowly, creeps from the deep crevices between my skin and bone - stinging the flesh, yet the sensation only brings me more hope.       ... (more »)
 
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