I wonder how on earth I survived through my senior high. It
wasn't like any ordinary high school experience, not to mention,
any ordinary lengths I went as far as admission in scientific
journalism school is concerned. Sure enough I studied till
my guts flew out onto my notes when it came to the finals
but to compensate, just like the rest of my "privileged
English" high school crew, witnessed quite a few less
educated people spilling out the contents of their guts as
we crashed the clubs till dawn. All throughout my last senior
years I remained in this particularly "mature" group
who were decent examples of fully responsible adults but it
wasn't until my credited research study abroad that I fully
grasped the notion of the term "maturity" beyond
the norms that some pre-graduate students ever have to go
through. Apart from these unbeatable "study then knock
the bouncers off with fakes if necessary" (their internal
motifs) high school professionals, there was this one undeniable
exception. This exception is to include Marcella -- my step
with Marcella is a 21st century version of Amanda Thripp with
the addition of red pig tails plus wide tortoise framed glasses
that hang on the edge of her peachy toned nose. (I could have
sworn she'd instantly land the role had she bothered to enroll
herself for audition in LA.) Marcella is from Missouri but
speaks fluent Italian (her grandfather was Italian and had
introduced her to actually think feel and communicate in Italian
without giving a damn whatsoever about the other, less charismatic
language known as English).
after a random visit to Missouri her mom managed to actually
blackmail me into taking Marcella with me to Kobe during my
moderate to intense research on earthquake detection strategies
(the moderate derives from the spontaneous outbursts of THE
wildest parties in all of Kobe, not to mention the whole country).
After repeatedly (brain) filtering this inevitable responsibility
for handling this twelve year old step niece who I barely
even knew for more than six months, I just thought .... WHAT
COULD BE WORSE. Maybe I just didn't feel comfortable with
the idea of showing up at one of the nation's "big time"
earthquake coordinating expert's liquor laden, spliff blazing
"wildcard" occasions (not that I'm hooked into nauseating
drugs and alcohol) with a twelve year old Harriet, the spy
wannabes tugging at my skirt as though it were some kite asking
"Agnese che cosa e il significato della sismologia? (what
is the use of seismology) in front of all the head seismologists.
Now, looking back I realise a whole lot could have been worse
if it weren't for Marcella and her mother's refusal to take
her along to an "insisted" romantic break to Bermuda.
as we arrived at the research student hostel, I paid the cab-driver
1,800 yen and looked around, noticing the humidity of a warm
day manipulating the aluminum speckled cement to melt between
the layers of maroon bricks. The research would take place
in the highly equipped laboratory known as "the centre
of advanced earthquake technology" just about two blocks
east from the hostel.
I met with all three of my senior supervisors inside the hostel
I decided to go directly to the glistening azure glassed laboratory.
I was this close to walking out of the revolving hostel door
when I realised ... that Marcella had vanished. How could
I have blatantly lost her? I reassured myself that while I
was busy speaking to the supervisors a while ago she might
have just gone to the bathroom or something. But there was
no bathroom on the ground floor nor did Marcella have the
card to enter our room. The next thing I knew I was scurrying
across the hostel lobby and out onto the streets of Kata-michii
in search of an Amanda Thripp among thousands of herds of
squinty eyed business and shopping orientated locals. I gave
up after fifteen minutes and ended up just walking towards
the laboratory to carry on my research (as well as call the
police for Marcella's identification). Without breaking the
code I entered the squeaky polished building and headed towards
the reception. There was a small fragile looking woman no
more than thirty with silver glasses and a white uniform who
peered at me through her high tech lenses. "Can I be
of some help to you?" she asked in Japanese.
you give me the manual to have access to the scansion room?"
She ran through her computer screen to check my name off and
bleakly pointed to a pile of purple leaflets across the corridor.
As I strolled
across the ridiculously squeaky white floor (Lord knows what
endangered animal wax they use on those) I could feel my legs
becoming a throbbing weight problem. Damn that 14 hour jet
flight with nothing to do but read the newspapers and drink
peach schnapps with salted crackers. I opened one of the purple
leaflets studying the small printed information of the scansion
room facilities. I tried hard to ignore this vulnerable pounding
sensation that one long-flight passenger might experience
for a while after landing but all my assumptions transformed
as I spotted a chalky white substance crumbling and falling
like fake dusty snow from the ceiling high above. I could
see all these white uniformed professors and administrators
gazing up at the ceiling in astonishment, whispering and then
one of them stood out mumbling something quite loudly in Japanese
"Jishinnoshirushi!" The next thing I knew the two
corner walls behind my back started to peel itself like an
orange before breaking like eggshells onto the floor. "What
the hell is going on?" I asked the Japanese lab coat
know it alls.
a bleached hair administrator replied as though expecting
me to know all my calculus equations. Immense heat and dust
started to gush at my eyes which provoked my eyesight into
a state of haziness as I tried to run towards the emergency
exit. TRIED TO RUN. But the absurd gravitational pull from
the depths of the deteriorating floor was so intense that
it could bury a horse (beneath the gateway to hell). It was
as if something invisible like a gargantuan snake was zig
zagging across the floor when I found my left ankle sinking
into the cracking earth.
God's sake someone get me out!!" I yelled, unable to
reach out to the frantically running, professional flock of
cowards. I looked back at my knees as they scoured and succumbed
into the unpiteous dilapidating concrete, slashed with raw
blood that managed to trickle out onto the tiles. "Someone
get me out!!!" I yelled as loud as was humanely possible.
There I was shivering with the idea that I was to die like
a fool without knowing that whatever that was happening before
my blurred vision could have been avoided had there initially
been more universal communication between our research team
and the actual lab co-workers.
several piercing minutes which seemed like several hours,
an old lab technician professor or whatever staggered towards
me from about 20 ft away and extended his hand but failed
as shields of glass came avenging onto him. Broken glass,
wounded tissue and splattered lost soul.
that my ankle would completely rip off had I moved any further
from the smashed layers of concrete, even my contemplations
on life became blurry as I forced myself to come to terms
with the similar fate this helpless old man had just encountered.
went black. I could feel it coming on now. This was about
to be my last black stare at the cruel selfish world, a world
in which every man is there but only for himself. The end
of life is trailing along towards the first chapter of death......
lights to strobe in spirals before a clinically white background
as this figure of a higher being or perhaps a higher authority
squeezed my wrist with jerky yet warm fingers. "Agnese,
non posso credere che siate vivi!" the angel exclaimed.
A white uniformed doctor emerged from the swarming crowd of
gushing squinty faces all bordering my white cocooned body.
"We've just increased the dosage of Morphine into your
bloodstream which should take approximately twenty minutes
for it to fully substantiate." I was split into questioning
whether this was a dream of death or a sensation of life but
it was the big speckled glasses stained from tears that answered
everything. All the supervisors of the research team came
up towards me, individually apologising in however way they
could for not being there to warn me and that a few others
had passed away or were badly injured from the unexpected
event. A tall bearded oriental figure stepped into the front
after baffling about with the medical staff. "Your dotta,
errrr frend, cum to my buukshop. She say she look for English
truncelatur I sey not her, only Japanese. I sho her to bilding
wey she can buy. I see smoke windo falling. She tol me dat
1,000 yen I go wit her. You not hostel in daishinsai. We go
to tunul unda kattamichi steshun. I brek daw and she see quatas
and tiket to Psyco. She say it you."
numbness perpetuate to every joint I obtained at that moment
knowing that it would take months before coming off the morphine
as well as learning about the half explained explanations.
Sometimes without predicting, our innermost discrepancies
begin to unfold.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004