Real Me

 Real Me


I was either missing or kidnapped from the maternity ward of a hospital right after birth, of course, that’s one theory. The other speculation is that I’d died as an infant due to medical error while my mother and I were still under the care of the hospital. One of these presumptions must be true because I’ve never felt quite myself in my life. When this appalling incident happened, to avoid a scandal, the hospital administrators, doctors, nurses, and whoever else involved in the fiasco, all colluded in a horrific coverup operation and falsified documents to alter my true identity to save their own necks. They simply took an unidentified baby sleeping in the next crib who was abandoned by his mother on a street corner and gave him to my parents as their son. As a result I am someone else, but who only God knows.


 I guess I could have been a normal kid growing up in an average family and turned into a responsible adult, but that was not what destiny had in mind for me. And to jazz up my chaotic childhood, when I was a kid, my mother told me once  if it wasn’t for a defective condom, I would not have been conceived and not born in the first place.


I don’t know who I really am, but I’m so glad the real me vanished otherwise that poor bastard would’ve had some serious issues.  My conception was a glitch, a malfunction, my life began with lies, fraud and deceptions.  For all practical purposes and for the sake of clarity, from this point on, the narrator of this text is referred to as “I”, the subject, although I don’t know who or where the hell the “I” really is.


To add more spice to my life, my kismet was to come to this world with a twist, I was born with two left feet.  In childhood I always wondered, “How could this simple birth defect affect my life?” But it did. The first problem was that my father had to buy two pairs of shoes and discard the two brand new right shoes. He was not exactly delighted doing that and I could see it in his face but I wish all my predicaments in life were as simple as this little financial burden on the family budget. Having two left feet shifted my entire life from right to left and as a result my childhood and adolescence was in complete disarray.


I was always a troubled student in school, an unruly, disruptive and disobedient pupil, and a perfect recipient of an array of classic and experimental punishments.  After  being harshly reprimanded by school authorities I went back home every day to face a fresh set of punishments by my mother.  My natural tendency for insubordination and rebellious behavior was never tolerated by the authorities at every level, at home with parents and elder siblings and in school with teachers and superintendent. As a result of making inappropriate left turns when the right turns were warranted, I was constantly at odds with friends and family and eventually with the law.


To escape my troubled life, one day I made my decision and finally ran away from home; for days and weeks and months I wandered streets as I was now homeless, a drifter. Shoplifted food to survive and slept on park benches, sidewalks and on a few occasions in cemeteries. It didn’t take a long time of being on my own that at a  young age, I found myself on the opposite side of law and finally ended up in prison where I spent the best years of my life behind bars.


Then the revolution happened. The country suddenly plunged into chaos, a widespread upheaval. Not only the government but the entire society went through a fundamental transformation. Now up was down and down was up, left and right switched positions, new coins were minted and the emblem on the flag altered to reflect a new dawn of the nation. For the first few years, anarchy governed the entire country and the door revolved around a new hinge. The revolutionary rulers captured and executed the previous government officials and elites. Fortunately, during this  pervasive turmoil and transformation I was doing time.


And one day my destiny altered; the heavens twisted my fate in a way I never thought possible. From that day on, everything changed in my life. That day as I was resting in my cell, the same prison guard who’d had a habit of beating me up for fun rushed inside my cell.


“I didn’t do anything,” I shouted as I was stepping back from the door and covering my face with two hands for protection.


“No, no, no. No more punishment,” he joyously  announced.


“What the hell’s going on, is this another one of your sadistic game?”


“No, I swear, you’re being released immediately, you’re free my friend.” He stepped back out of the cell while bowing down, leaving the door open and ushering me out with a hand gesture.


And as soon as I walked out of my cell to the yard, I received an astonishingly warm reception by the prison authorities who rushed toward me; welcomed me back to the society while hanging a wreath of flowers around my neck.


I was still in state of shock and did not know how to respond to such bizarre mix up.


       ”During our comprehensive review of unjust prison system we came across your file. We examined your prison file and discovered yet another grave injustice done to a distinguished citizen of our fatherland. We found out an amazing man, a true patriot and an exquisite gem as you are was unjustly languishing in our prison system of the dictators.  You sir are a national hero.”


        “A hero, a true gem, distinguished, fatherland, me…” Words slobbered out of my mouth uncontrollably.   


        “You sir are a novelty, you were born on the day of the revolution, on a day that our nation embraced a new horizon,” said the warden after kissing me on both cheeks.


And that’s how I was instantly morphed from a born troublemaker, a menace to society into a very symbol of revolution, an insignia of the liberty.


“The time you have unjustly served in prison will be considered as the sacrifice you made for the cause of our national freedom.


I was now a shining star, a suddenly born hero in a right-wing militaristic political system with two left feet.  As much as I was excited to take advantage of my newly acquired stardom status, I knew it in my heart that this unforeseen honor and celebrity status would not last long; I was not that dumb to believe in such luck.  Either the revolutionary leaders of this regime would discover my lefty secret or the next upheaval in the country would convert me from the symbol of freedom to the icon of treason just because of my birthdate.  In either case, I could clearly see my dead body dangling from a tree with a noose around my neck. The best course of action was to flee the crime scene, my birthplace.


As eager as I was to escape this death trap of mine, I could not afford the travel expenses so I had no choice but to liquidate my newly acquired nobility.


  In a private meeting with the high ranking revolutionary leaders, I demanded reparation for my long years of heroic sacrifices I had made for our revolution and fatherland.


“We can offer you a lucrative position in the ministry of culture and guidance.”


“Ministry of culture and guidance? But I’m not educated myself, what can I do in such position?”


“Don’t worry, who cares about education in revolution? Education is an overrated notion, a Western creation to control people. In our new system we promote absolute loyalty and sacrifice. You can do a lot in that position. You can read and write, can’t you?”


“Of course I can.”


“Then you’re an ideal candidate for this newly created role. You will earn a lofty salary and full benefit package including medical, dental and life insurance.”


“What would I be doing?”


“Your job is to censor all counter-revolutionary ideas in books before we can issue permit for publication.”


“Read? Read what?”


“Books and other printed materials of course,” they said.


“But there’re lots of writers in this country,” I said while calculating the amount of reading required.


“Don’t worry about writers; believe me after we complete our cultural revolution, there won’t that many books left for you to edit. That’s why we created this ministry and that how important this position is. After you identify all counter-revolutionary authors and we deal with them accordingly, then there won’t be that many writers left to write anyways and your job will be much easier, my friend.”


I was to read literary works of dissident writers and flush out their harmful thoughts and blacklist the authors to prevent future publications. Oh my God, I had to read thousands of pages every week just to edit them out of books.


“This position has a lot of perks. In addition to the hefty base salary, you can earn a handsome commission based on the number of books you process. But that’s not all, we assure you that this position will put you on the path of success, it enables you to quickly climb the social ladder to reach the highest offices in the land such as a cultural attaché in our embassies around the world and even become the minister of culture and guidance. That’s why this position is so crucial in the future of social engineering project and makes your role  so instrumental to achieve our goal.

“How so?” I asked.


“After completion of the first phase, we’re planning to restructure the ministry of culture and guidance and take the culture out of it all together and simply call it the ministry of guidance. In the future you won’t have much to read anyway as there won’t be so many harmful books on the market to worry about.”    


The censorship didn’t bother me at all, the long hours of reading I didn’t care for.


“You see, as much as I love to be an integral part of our revolutionary idealism and construction of a new society, I must respectfully refuse your generous offer. As you know I have suffered enough for our cause. After years of languishing in a prison cell I need to take a break for a while. May I ask for a free airline ticket to an overseas destination as compensation for my sacrifices?”


 After hours of negotiation, they offered a free all-inclusive vacation package to compensate my patriotism, a round trip ticket to any destination in the world, hotel accommodation and daily meal allowance. And since I had no intention of returning to the deathtrap, without raising any suspicions, masterfully I managed to swap the return portion of the ticket with a first class seat upgrade.


In the short time I had to escape my grim destiny, I hastily booked an international flight and prepared for my self-imposed exile. The departure date quickly arrived and I was to leave my homeland in search of a better future. I had nothing of value to take with me abroad but my cherished memories of childhood and youth and above all the sweet reminiscence of the first kiss I had a teenager, the very recollection the new political establishment considered impure, corrupt and illegal.  With great anxiety, I delicately concealed some of my contraband memories in dirty socks, some recollections I churned to blend in with shampoo in the bottle and a few I squeezed in a French cologne. Sweet  memories were all I had in my possession to live for. My  anxious behavior at the airport did not go unnoticed by the authorities; I was frisked twice and my luggage was methodically. Fortunately my suitcase went through security checks with all the banned items undetected. I sighed in relief when I finally boarded the plane, settled in my seat and fastened my seatbelt. Finally the plane took off and in a matter of minutes I was flying above clouds envisioning a future brighter than my past.


A few hours later, as the plane was cruising at high a altitude and I was taking a relaxing nap, suddenly I sensed a draft. The exit door I was leaning against was vibrating like a willow tree in the wind. The nuisance rattling of the door was ruining my historic flight. So I did what any other uncomfortable passenger would do in a similar situation; pushed the button overhead and a few moments later a flight attendant appeared  looking down on me.


       “What is it this time?” She sniped in a disrespectful tone of voice.


       “Why are you talking to me like that? Am I not flying first class?” I shrieked.


       “You don’t exactly strike me as a first class passenger. What do you want?”


       “Look for yourself! This door is shaking!”


“So what?”

       “What do you mean so what? I am not comfortable.”


       “We’re flying at 500 miles per hour and thousands of feet above ground. What do you expect me to do? Get a screw driver and fix it for you?  Just don’t pay attention to it.”


I could see her point but sleeping with the head piercing noise, the rattling door and the sharp needles of air stabbing me in the face was impossible.


       “May I change seat please?” I pleaded.


       “Don’t you see we have a full flight?”


       “But I’m a national hero in my country, I deserve better treatment than this, this is really unfair...”


“I don’t care for your attitude sir. You’ve not been anything but a pest ever since you boarded the plane.  First I offered you refreshment of your choice Coke, sparkling water, coffee or beer, and you asked for barberry juice. Who asks for barberry juice on a flight; I haven’t even heard of such fruit in my life. And now fuss about a little draft and vibration. I warn you mister, one more peep out of you and I report you to the captain as a potential flight risk and you’ll be in a lot of trouble when we land.” She pointed her index finger at me before walking away cursing me under her breath. 


A few minutes later, the door started shaking violently but surprisingly no other passenger was alarmed. How could I possibly rest like this? I wondered.  I had a legitimate concern about a malfunctioning door. Was I not entitled to a hassle-free flight? As much as I was irritated by the rude stewardess, I kept quiet to avoid further escalation.


       I could not jeopardize my future for such insignificant travel discomforts so I ignored the nuisance draft and closed my eyes to see beautiful dreams, but the vibration of the exit door became unbearable and the loud noise excruciating. The  wind pressure suddenly turned into an explosive thunder and in a matter of seconds and before I could react to the situation I heard an ear piercing sound and before my bewildered eyes the exit door was ripped out of the plane and I was sucked out  into the sky.


“Aha, I said to myself, now I’m going to file a formal complaint against the airline, demand a formal apology for their poor customer service and a full refund.” I said to myself on a freefall.


  As I was tumbling in sky, I realized I’d left my passport and travel documents in the overheard compartment and worse than that was all my memories that now were going to a wrong destination.  Before I got a chance to grief for my losses, I thunderously crashed into the ground with an explosive booming sound. At least I was rid of an unpleasant flight and the rude fly attendant, I thought.


In a split second, when I rammed into the ground at such horrific velocity, the enormous force of impact wedged me deep inside the earth. I went into a coma for an unknown period of time and when I regained consciousness, I found myself buried in a very  tight spot. The jet lag, the free fall and the crash had made me dizzy and a little bruised up but this was not the time to be wimpy. I had to be tough, get out of the chasm immediately and start my new life as planned.  The good news was that I could see a sliver of daylight from the depth of the abyss I was trapped in.  It took me a long time and lots of hard work to finally crawl my way out of that hole and resurface. When I emerged from the depth of darkness, I was dazed in a modern wilderness. Everything around me was so different from where I’d come from. I was now alone and helpless stranded in a foreign land with no identity and no memory of the past.


As I was aimlessly wandering in crowded streets in my ragged torn up clothes, mussed hair and bizarre appearance contemplating my next course of action, I was suddenly struck by a passing automobile. Once again, I found myself vaulting in the air before I landed on the hood of a speeding car, thrown up again and slapped on the pavement like a piece of lifeless animal in slaughterhouse. A few frightened pedestrians rushed to help me off the ground mumbling questions I didn’t understand. As disoriented as I was I slurred  words more incomprehensible to myself than to the others.


A few minutes later I was surrounded by a police patrol car, an ambulance, a sanatorium transportation vehicle and a black unmarked SUV filled with state security agents. As I struggled to get up and leave, all these authorities stormed toward me and tackled me down to the ground. Since I was not able to verbally communicate, I started extending my hands and jumping up and down and babble incomprehensible sounds. Now they were confused on how to proceed.  The first order of business for them was to figure out who or what I was before they could determine what to do.  I was now the focal point of an intense altercation. Two paramedics grabbed my hand and dragged me to the ambulance while a huge police officer seized one of my left feet and pulled me to his cruiser. My other left foot was clutched in the hands of secret service agents and my free hand was being forcefully put into a straight jacket by the mental hospital staff.  As I was fighting for my life with teeth and claws to escape these maniacs, I was zapped by a taser gun and was subdued.  


The next time I opened my eyes, I was in a cage where I’ve being fed three times a day and washed. Truth be told, here I am being treated with more respect than ever before in my life. I am being analyzed by experts of various fields to determine who or what I am.  I’ve lost my voice; my hands are deformed so I cannot write although I can manage holding a pen to scribble on the paper.  Everything I doodle is being carefully analyzed and studied by scientists and researchers. I’m being treated cordially and listened to attentively. I must admit I like the attention I receive. On Wednesdays, a group of researchers pay me a visit and connect wires to my body and head and record my pulses and responses to heat, cold and various sound frequencies.


One day they held a mirror to my face. I was unrecognizable. My hands and feet have shrunk and my body is swollen to a much larger size than the original proportions. At first I was terrified to see the image in the mirror then I realized this very repugnant disfigurement was my allure, my only path to a better future. If they discovered I was a human being; I’d be facing all sorts of legal challenges and horrific  consequences such as incarceration and deportation.


During my stay here, I managed to learn my captors’ language but I pretend otherwise as I’ve carefully devised a conniving survival strategy therefore I wisely choose my every move accordingly. I don’t act too unintelligent otherwise I would be mistaken for an animal of a sort and risk losing my appeal and sent to a zoo. Yet I don’t fully reveal my intellect otherwise they would figure out my human nature and totally lose interest.


There are a host of governmental agencies, university professors and researchers who’re infatuated with my exotic nature but I enjoy spending time with a voluptuous female anthropologist who visits me every week. Over time, I’ve built good rapport with her but she still doesn’t feel safe to come inside my cage to pet me.  After every session we have together, she slides a piece of meat into my cell before leaving to reward my cooperation. This lifestyle of mine has its own restrictions of course. 


Since I cannot verbally communicate, occasionally I draw bizarre shapes on the paper to have a little entertainment in captivity. One day I drew an abstract middle finger just to enjoy seeing  the puzzled looks on the art experts. Based on what I gathered, they’re still baffled about how to proceed.


If I’m found to be an extra-terrestrial creature, then the top secret government agencies would take my custody and only God knows what they would do to me next. As a human being, I’m nothing but an undocumented foreigner, an illegal alien and in that case according to law, I’d promptly be deported God knows where.  On the way back to wherever the destination is, on the ship, they’d make me peel potatoes to pay for my travel expenses. None of these situations are desirable outcomes.


For me freedom is not a viable option, imprisonment is.  I perfectly understand that as long as I live as an amorphous creature in this state of limbo I remain relevant and as long as I manage to perpetuate my captivity I will survive.