Christmas ended; New Year fulled and waned; I ‘celebrated’ my anniversary of moving to Delaware; the weather fluctuated contrarily. Oh, contradictions! Colby’s longtime knee disability was finally diagnosed. I recount our conversation one time when he returned limping from the physiotherapist.
“Jeez, I ache now,” he groaned to me, and I grinned. “I have no idea what this guy’s trying to do to me. Sometimes doctors forget that normal people don’t speak their language. The guy told me what’s wrong but he doesn’t tell me what whatever he says means.”
“Aren’t you glad to have it diagnosed, though?” I said.
“Yeah and no,” replied Colby, lurching alarmingly along the corridor and accidentally shunting a bunch of girls a few forms below us.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s nice to put a name to whatever is wrong with me,” he explained. “I’ve had this condition forever and have had tests for my entire life, but it’s horrible never knowing what’s wrong. But on the other hand, the doctors have come back to me shouting, ‘Hallelujah, we know the answer!’, but it doesn’t change anything for me. All that’s happened is a few more X-rays and tests and these painful physio sessions. I just can’t get excited about it.”
I did not reply till we were outside our Physics classroom.
“I know what you mean,” I said, a sketch playing itself out in my head. I had the sudden urge to capture it down on paper, and flicked to a blank page in one of my Physics books. Go to Hell, phasors! This time it’s cathartic art!
A comic strip scene shaped itself across the lines of my page through the medium of my thickest pencil. As I drew, the propaganda and irony of my black-and-white characters came alive, and I heard them shouting their lines out to the science corridor.
“Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” cried a mob of evangelistic Christians, radiant with their haloes of faith. “He’s saved! He’s coming with us to Heaven! We’ve saved him!”
A boy at the left of the page faced his saviours with happy smiles; the thought bubble behind his back read, “…Oh, God, what have I got myself into?”