“It’s going to be alright, yaah…Surgery might reverse the process. I’m sure the…” I shifted my focus from his mouth to his hands as they folded, bent and cut across the air.
His brown hands, like lightly toasted samosas, were firm but soft and always gentle whenever he examined me. I remember how he’d walked across the room to shake my hand but instead banged against my handbag as I turned to shut the door. Later after I sat down I saw that the face of his watch had a crack. I frowned. I’m sure it wasn’t there two days ago. I was always doing things like that. I suppose I hadn’t adjusted yet.
He was trying to catch my attention. “ Susan?” “Hmmm?” Old habits die hard. Plus I liked the vibrations formed in my throat. I wish I could pull the mmmms a little longer. “ I think we’ll just wait for your parents then.” I nodded. Dr. Patel was sweet. He had the airs of a nice-uncle-who-doesn’t-visit-much-but-always-gives-you-pocket-money. He reminded me of Papa Smurf. He wore a brilliant white turban, had a soft lush salt and pepper beard and kind sparkly eyes.
I didn’t blame him. I wish he knew that. But I suppose it was time to stop blaming HIM. You know, the Big Guy, The Alpha and Omega, Nyasae Papa, He with the incredibly warped sense of humor? How else would one explain an accident starring a girl who ‘never listens’ to her parents, said parents and an otologist? Fact is stranger than fiction. Really.
Now after months of recuperation, therapy and the subtle introduction of hand gestures with more deliberate meaning other than ‘come’, ‘go’, ‘stop’, it was pretty obvious that I would never hear again.
I’d also never hear him grunting, panting then shouting my name in ecstasy again and again and again. Papa, not Nyasae Papa, had deadened my senses long ago. He’d conditioned me to feel invisible; swallow my words; wilt at any touch and have the stench of his skin pervade my being. I was deaf long before I couldn’t hear the sound of freedom.
Now it would be his turn.
Dr. Patel stood up to welcome my parents. Papa set his huge frame on the empty seat next to me. Warm smile for the doctor, cold eyes for the daughter. Mother sat across from me, her eyes fervently fixed on the doctor. I wasn’t surprised. Fifteen years and not a day had my mother acknowledged my pain. Not since I was six years old and Papa had began his late night excursions.
But now it was I who acknowledged hers. I didn’t blame her either, Papa was the connoisseur of conditioning, he had taught her to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. So when I took out the letter opener and stuck it deep into Papa’s right ear all I heard was her sweet happy laugh ringing inside mine.