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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Whole and Undivided

Whole and Undivided

Marine checked her shared bedroom door, it was locked, no one in the family could barge in. Then she closed the curtains, even though their condominium was on the 10th floor, and no other buildings were close enough for peering eyes.

Her menstrual cramps would ease in another ten or so minutes because she took her pain tablets after breakfast, the acne breakout on her cheeks made her aware that pus was building up in the pores, and it would get worse as the temperature rose during the day, but it was the headaches that were the most concerning of her ongoing discomforts. 

Cramps and acne she shared with her friends, complaining and consoling each other's adolescent maladies and engaging in a morbid past time of discussing remedies and palliatives.

It was the third pain, the headaches, that were frightful to Marine, because she could not share those beyond the secret circle of her mother, her father, Auntie Lips the hairdresser, and her pediatrician. At 14 years of age she still went to a baby doctor as her parents did not want to expand the small circle of people who knew.

Her vanity mirror was wide and had a built in tubular lamp that had the luminescence of natural tropical daylight. Although it was a clear ten o' clock morning, Marine turned the lamp on, and sat down before the mirror. She pushed aside Auntie Lips' carefully sewn in hair piece that covered the last area where the human skull fused into one casing - the area that we call the mole - and looked at the dome of growing bone that was causing her pain.

The tests that were done years ago were conclusive. Marina's bare skull in the centre of her head would grow into a horn during adolescence, and over the past year, it had started. Auntie Lips had been filing down the horn as it emerged, in addition to stitching down a hair piece that lay flat over the extruded bone.

From she started kindergarten, Marine had learned how to keep her bare skull bone as a secret. Her mother would have hidden it from her father as well, had the doctor not insisted that he had a right to know. The year that she started her period, her doctor and her mother made her aware about the coming growth and she had accepted that as well without thinking about it. But now that it was here, and Marine was sure it was responsible for the intense headaches, she had been thinking about it a lot.

    "Live with Integrity"

Her class had had this phrase drilled into them from the first day of secondary school. It was an attempt to encourage the students to have an internal regulator that would stop them from being cheats and sociopaths. It reminded them that their online activities and their unique national identifier would find out deception, and that mistakes will follow them through life. It was a voluntary call to action, a word to the wise.

Marina accepted the code and followed it, she did not practice cheating and she simply told the truth on any matter that would come up and face the consequences. But concealing the growing horn on her head was a different matter, that was a secret outside of the integrity code.

"What if I made it a semi-secret?" Marine wondered.
A "semi-secret" would mean expanding the knowledge to her big brother and sister, her grandparents, her aunts and uncles and cousins. What were the consequences if they knew?
"Semi-secret" could also be her best friends at school and club, she had three to four really close ones.
Wouldn't they understand and defend her? She also felt sure they would, they were decent people.

"But is that what living with integrity means?"

Marine used her cell phone to take a selfie photo of the bone. She had to snap quite a few times until she captured one that was in focus and bright enough to examine how it really looked.

It was not pretty.

She wished that, at least, the bone would have been a noble ivory or a shiny enamel like a tooth, but it was a grey, brown, tough horn. It seemed better after all to keep it covered up.

Marine fixed back her hairpiece and thought again about the word integrity. From she was a young girl she had had a lot of exposure about self-pride, racial pride, national pride, they repeated that everyone was special in their own unique way. Her family treated her, and each other, with respect and gave care and attention - love.

In the media, society was at pains to tell young people about the dangers of bleaching and that at school, bleached students would suffer consequences. The schools could not force students who bleached to stay at home until their skins regained their natural colour, but they found creative ways to discourage the practice. Students who wore weaves and extensions suffered the emotional distress of having it cut off and confiscated at the nurse's station, so no one wasted time and effort or bravado to style themselves for life in institutions in that way. The same applied for the age old breach of nail polish and makeup.

But here she was, with a cosmetic solution for a natural condition that was not contagious and not dangerous.

If I was born to grow a horn, then perhaps I should have my horn if I wish, Marine thought.