Tell me where it hurts

2 February 2019

I slowly pointed a shaking hand. As my tennis instructor focused her gaze to the direction my finger was indicating, she dropped the Sailor Moon Band-Aid in her hand, her eyes fixed on the swollen, purple mass that used to be my ankle. I reclined on the metal bench that was roasting under the relentless August sunshine as my instructor ran to get ice, looking flustered. I tried to appear unfazed, my eyes battling back tears, while the other kids came over to seek relief from the heat and stare at my inflated ankle.

Two weeks later, I lay on the couch with my gauze-wrapped foot elevated on top of three decorative pillows, crutches at hand. I took my foot off the pillows and sat with my head in my hands. I gingerly stood up with all my weight on my left foot and slowly shifted some of the burden to my right.

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A sharp pain shot through my leg and I immediately sunk back in the deep abyss of the leather couch. Heaving a great sigh, I placed my foot back on its heavenly pedestal just as the garage door opened and my family entered the house.My little brother was hopping around, holding up a new toy he wanted. I shot him a phony smile and found my gaze drifting down to his small, dancing feet, envy coursing through my body, my soul, my heart.

My feet itched to hop off the couch and dance with him. I felt a pang as I strolled along the trail of memories . . .I was six and dreamt big dreams. The whole world was a canvas for me to leave a mark. And what a better way to leave it than from up above .

. . I knew if I believed hard enough, I would be able to fly. Envisioning that I was among the serene, blue skies and the soft, marshmallow-like clouds, I jumped off my bed. I felt the thrill of flight and breathed in the crisp scent of the heavens before my feet hit the ground and I fell back to reality. Disappointment rattled my six-year-old frame and the back of my eyes stung as I held back the tide of unruly waters.β€œNamratha,” my mother called softly, pulling me away from my reverie.

β€œIs something wrong?β€β€œN-no . . . no, I’m fine . . . thanks, Mom,” I mumbled.

As my eyes fell back upon the cast that imprisoned my foot, I became that six-year-old girl that watched the doors close to her dreams. But as I sat there, wallowing in my sorrows, I felt a bubble of optimism rise within me.I looked back at my brother and smiled, this time genuinely. I slowly rose up from the couch again, gingerly placing weight on my right leg. I again felt the sharp sting, but removed the thought of pain from my mind and found that it slowly receded as I evened out my weight. Like a toddler learning to walk, I clutched everything within my grasp as I inched over to my brother. Two feet from him, I stopped and smiled smugly at the look of amazement in his face.I could fly.

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