Poor Vessel

Miraculously, I remember this story of a pregnant woman on an Indian train. The toilet went straight to the tracks, as--I can't help but agree with the storyteller--it ought to. (The AC compartment I travelled in had a nightmare toilet with no immediate exit.) She squatted over the toilet, and the baby slipped through the hole like a well-formed, if a bit broad, turd. Even more miraculously than the narrative not falling through the holes in my memory (which may be more infinitely clogged than porous), she ran out of the train, afterbirth unbirthed, retrieved baby, caught up with the train, and hopped back in.

I also found it miraculous (as miraculous as how writing this protects me from being punched for using "miraculous" so many times) that anyone managed to poop in a moving toilet. Which is stupid. Everyone does, despite the rocking of the train. The Olympics are too canonized--every one's everyday contains feats equal to the biathalon.

On the other hand, is it not so much that, as you may imagine me preaching, There Are Miracles All Around Us, but that some of us are barely capabable of, as Martha Nussbaum puts it rather unsettlingly, "basic human functions"? I would prefer not to think of people in the idiom of Object-Oriented Programming, but I do--a knee-jerk that never connects with anything.

For reasons that elude me, Bangalore always initially robs me of one basic human function: digestion. I'm a poor vessel. It's not so much that things fall through or become clogged--though they certainly do--but that my stomach contents are leavened with gas. Ask me to recount a story, or someone's past, or to say anything about my life. That absent look you'll get is pure flatulence. I tell myself I can feel it all churning inside. Evidence that I've digested something. Like a Sphinx I'm holding in an outburst: that there really is food in my belly and sugar in my veins.

9 June 2014