The most pivotal moment of my life has been concealed in mist, up until now, because someone saw the scar on the back of my head and asked where it came from.
The scar belonged to a girl I used to know. She collapsed on the gym floor of primary school, paralyzed at who she was becoming.
She was unknowingly born with this condition. AVM (arteriovenous malformation) is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins, which disrupts streamline flow, causing a rupture brain bleed.
The day it happened, she showed up to school in blue jeans, a red T-shirt, and a pair of Mary Janes. A stroke clouded her brain. Students claimed before she fainted, she shriveled up on the ground and puked up her insides. I’m unsure whether these seven-year-olds might have been exaggerating, or if I just can’t remember.
She thought if she closed her eyes, she would be able to talk to someone. But in her void, all she heard was black silence. She spent weeks grappling with time as if it were a checkers match with the spirits of the hospital.
And then I woke up.
The first test was the first sign.
“Can you read the time on the clock?”
I couldn’t read it. I didn’t know how. I never really relearned how.
The day I came back, I wore red jeans, a blue T-shirt, a digital watch, and a baseball hat to hide my bald head. How lonesome it was taking it off just to be laughed at by hidden figures. I wanted to be a figure too, and I longed to know who they were.
The next few tests became a gradual part of daily life. Get well soon notes from figures that she knew. I read one from a girl named Jasmine. The note said they were best friends. Later that day, Jasmine said hello to me. I might have known who Jasmine was. Even so, the emotional attachment was gone. Jasmine was merely a stranger on the street.
Over time, it became easier. I had to relearn math, a subject they could have sworn I was good at. And Jasmine asked what happened to my interest in music and why I now write. When I answered her, she said it didn’t make sense – last month I was obsessed with the Beethoven film we had watched in class. This was when I knew I would live the rest of my life carrying guilt and confusion over not being the version of me people want.
How can a person exist one day to vanish the next? A stroke that altered my personality left nothing but a haunting of who I could’ve been. An unclassified type of amnesia I feel I invented. All I can do now is hope who I am today is enough. And what’s worse is that no one knows how much I’ve forgotten. Just like no one knows how much I remember it all.
Art by Bahia Rozan