Second Born

At a client meeting today

At a client meeting today

28 March 2014
4:14 PM
Manila

M.–

My sister was finally able to hurdle through the first three years of med school, and is now a junior intern. My parents are over the moon, and the last few days she’s been quite the star in the family. I’m very proud of her, and am happy for everything that she’s achieved.

But–and here is the inevitable but–it can be stifling, for the rest of us, here at home. It’s blindingly obvious how big a deal this is. Anything you need is a common refrain. Anything you want is the accompanying subtext. “Doctor” after all, sounds good to my mother and father’s ears. “Writer” most likely causes cringing.

A Sad Child
Margaret Atwood

You’re sad because you’re sad.
It’s psychic. It’s the age. It’s chemical.
Go see a shrink or take a pill,
or hug your sadness like an eyeless doll
you need to sleep.

Well, all children are sad
but some get over it.
Count your blessings. Better than that,
buy a hat. Buy a coat or pet.
Take up dancing to forget.

Forget what?
Your sadness, your shadow,
whatever it was that was done to you
the day of the lawn party
when you came inside flushed with the sun,
your mouth sulky with sugar,
in your new dress with the ribbon
and the ice-cream smear,
and said to yourself in the bathroom,
I am not the favourite child.

My darling, when it comes
right down to it
and the light fails and the fog rolls in
and you’re trapped in your overturned body
under a blanket or burning car,

and the red flame is seeping out of you
and igniting the tarmac beside your head
or else the floor, or else the pillow,
none of us is;
or else we all are.

During lunch today the rest of us siblings, who haven’t done anything remarkable as of late, wondered if we should form a group. “Let’s call it The Losers Club,” C. joked. Maybe I should create badges or something.

Yours,
T.

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