Feel the Burn

May 24, 2011
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We have so much to be thankful for in our lives. Ironically, we don’t realize how precious something or someone is to us— until we lose whatever that is. That precious whatever might be a loved one, a life changing opportunity or anything valuable. In my case, it was a usable right hand. For a month, I was unable to eat with chopsticks, the most vital utensil to an Asian, nor was I able to play the piano, grab a pencil or do anything in that case with my dominant right hand. I never knew how uncomfortable doing the simplest of tasks could be. And if I hadn’t grabbed the scorching hot tongs, I would’ve been able to spend the perfect summer vacation without the constant reminder of my most embarrassing high school moment. But, of course, it had to be me.

The memory of that sunny day toward the end of May is as clearly marked in my mind as the white scorch mark I received that day across my right hand. It was a time when both teachers and students were on their toes either making up tests or submitting class grades in before the final exams. Like every other sophomore student, who was neither elated about graduation nor the upcoming senior year, I was just counting down the days till school was out. As I mentioned earlier, the day was flowing like the usual tide until, well, seventh period— the last class of the day. For me, seventh period wasn’t the usual educational class where you use pencils to take notes or to bubble in scantron exams; I took Jewelry I— an intriguing yet dangerous class I dare say. During the first week of school we needed to pass a test to even step into the back studio, where the serious jewelry making business took place. Fortunately, the whole year I was unharmed— well of course not totally; my hands were nearly always bandaged because of the numerous cuts I got from sawing and drilling metal pieces. However, these injuries were nothing compared to the one I would soon receive.

That day I was working on the last assignment of the year. I was totally excited about my bronze bracelet— a complex, miniature tea table with the whole tea set and all. I had to handle the torch to sauter, a method of gluing metal pieces together under a hot flame, nearly all class period long. Like the usual routine, I thoughtlessly walked into the back studio and sautered my miniature tea kettle onto the bronze table. A tong in one hand and the torch in another, I carefully placed the kettle at the exact spot and patiently waited for the flame to melt the sauter. A few more seconds and… success! I placed the burning tongs and torch back on the cooling stones— a warning to others about the temperature of the objects. I cooled my piece under cool, running water and went back to the classroom to see my progress. As I was walking over to my chair totally absorbed in my beautiful art piece, I accidently bumped into another classmate and dropped my bronze tea table on the tiled floor. Thankfully, just the kettle had fallen off. I calmed myself down as I walked back to the studio. Placing my piece down where I had earlier, I quickly looked around for a pair of tongs that I could use. I saw a pair laying harmlessly downside-up on the table, a painful misjudgment that I would beat myself over moments later.

Without any hesitance, I reached for the tongs. The moment my skin came into contact with the burning hot metal, that was scorching in the fire over 3000 degrees, my whole arm suddenly paralyzed with a pain that shot up through my right arm and shoulder. I screamed at the top of my lungs as I yanked my innocent hand off of the dangerous object. An anxiety shock ran through me as I quickly turned on the faucet to steam my hand in the cold running water like I had done with my art piece just minutes ago. Frightened by my sudden shrieks, my best friend ran into the backroom to see what had happened to me. By that point, tears were already burning down my cheeks. Another cold sweat went up my spine as my best friend scanned my hand with enormous eyes. She grabbed me and hurriedly scooted me out into the classroom where my teacher and all the other students were. My teacher yelled a fearful “WHAT?” and by this point, all eyes were on me. This wasn’t the spotlight that I had been exactly wanting. As my teacher ran to call the nurse, the whole world seemed to slow down like the special effects in movies. In my blurry vision, I could see the other students looking at me with stunned, concerned faces. Surprisingly, till this day, I clearly remember the faces I saw that moment. The pain that shot through my whole hand and arm reminded me soon again of the scorching tongs that I had grabbed without hesitance. Resentment rose within me at the thought of the person who left the deadly weapon loaded and awaiting for a careless victim like me. Minutes later, I ended up in the nurse’s office with a huge bag full of ice to mitigate the pain but, of course, the pain would last for another day. During my car ride home, I sighed as I imagined the muffled snickers of the students the moment I left the classroom. Oh, great.

A couple of weeks later, school had ended and the only pain left from the whole fiasco was the emotional one I was struck with every time I looked at my scarred hand. I tried to approach the situation optimistically; it was a fantastic conversation starter and I got away with several chores. However, it was very inconvenient to have an injured hand. For example, when I forgot about my hand for a second and tightly grabbed a cup or when I had to protect my hand from getting wet at a pool party. Through this whole event, I must say that I have learned a valuable lesson in my life: without my hands, I don’t know what I would do. I got a sudden respect for the people who lived without a limb or a vital body part. My scar would heal and I would be able to live a normal life again but what about those people who know they can never walk again or those who wake up to a pitch dark world? I felt compassion on those people as I became grateful of my healthy body, something most people take for granted. I, also, learned to become more cautious and aware of my surroundings. Overall, although the whole event was a painful experience, it was an opportunity for me to learn a life lesson and to have an unforgettable high school memory.





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