Real Me
                                                     
    I was kidnapped from the maternity ward of a hospital
after birth. When this appalling incident happened, to avoid a
scandal, the hospital authorities took the unidentified baby in
the next crib whose parents had abandoned him on the
street and gave him to my parents. I am someone else.  I
could have been a normal baby growing up in a normal
family and became a functional adult, but my destiny was not
written this way.  Just to add a little flair to my life, when I was
a kid, once my mother told me if it wasn’t for a defective
condom, I would not be born.  I don’t know who I really am,
but I’m so glad the real me disappeared otherwise he would
have had some serious issues.  My life started based on lies,
misunderstandings and deceptions.  For all practical
purposes and for the sake of clarity, from this point on, the
narrator of this text is referred to as I although I don’t know
who or where the hell he really is.

    I was born with two left feet.  I always wondered, “How
could this simple birth defect affect my life?”  But it did. The
first problem was that my father had to buy two pairs of
shoes for me and discard the two brand new right shoes. He
was not a happy man when he did so, but I wish all my
dilemmas in life were as simple as this little financial burden
on the family.  Having two left feet turned my entire life right
to left.  As a result of making inappropriate left turns when
the right turns were warranted or advised, I put myself at
odds with friends, family members and eventually with the
law. At a very young age, I ended up in prison and spent
many years behind bars.

     My youth was in complete disarray until the revolution
happened. The country suddenly plunged into chaos. Up
was down and down was up. Left and right switched
positions, coins changed and the emblem on the flag altered.
Anarchy governed the country. When the new leaders came
to power they redefined all the revered values. Fortunately
during this widespread turmoil I was doing time. One day as I
was resting in my cell, the same prison guard who used to
beat me whimsically told me I was freed. As soon as I walked
out to the yard, I received an astonishingly warm reception
by the prison Authorities. During this ceremony I was
welcomed back to society with a wreath of flowers.

    ”You Sir are a national hero.  You were born on the day
of the revolution,” said the prison director.

    And that was how I was instantly transformed from a born
troublemaker to the very symbol of liberty. The time I served
in prison was officially declared to be the ultimate heroic
price I’d paid for the cause of freedom.

    I was now a hero in a right wing political system with two
left feet.  I knew this unforeseen honor would not last long.
Either the leaders of this regime would discover my lefty
secret or the next upheaval in the country would convert me
from the symbol of freedom to icon of treason just because I
was born on a certain day.  In either case, I could clearly see
my dead body dangling from a tree with a noose around my
neck. The best course of action was to flee the crime scene-
my birthplace.

    As eager as I was to escape this death trap of mine, I
could not afford the travel expenses. I decided to bank on my
newly acquired nobility.  In a private meeting with high
ranking government officials, I demanded reparation for
years of heroic sacrifices for cause of liberty. They offered
me a lucrative position in the ministry of culture and an
education with a lofty salary and full benefits including no
deductible medical and dental insurance. My job was to
censor all counter-revolutionary ideas in books before they
were published.  I was to read the literary works of dissident
writers and flush out their harmful thoughts.   I had to read
thousands of pages every week just to edit them out of the
books. In addition to the fixed salary, in this position I could
earn a hefty commission based on the number of books I
could censor.  I was assured that this promising position
would enable me to quickly climb the social ladder and reach
the highest offices in the land including the minister of
culture or his cultural attaché in foreign countries.

     The censorship didn’t bother me at all, the long reading
hours I didn’t care for so I refused their generous offer and
demanded a reward with more liquidity.  During one intense
negotiation, I demanded 10,000 frequent flyer miles for every
year I was unjustly imprisoned as a reward for my sacrifices.
They counter offered a free vacation to compensate my
patriotism, a round trip ticket to any destination and a
passport. I swapped the return ticket for free in-flight meals
of course.

     In a short time, I hastily booked an international flight to
escape the country before getting in trouble with the ideals
of revolution or before my free ticket expired.  The day of my
voluntary exile arrived and I was to leave my homeland in
search of a better future.  I had nothing to take with me
abroad but my cherished memories of childhood, the very
recollections the new political establishment considered
impure, corrupt and therefore illegal.  With great anxiety, I
delicately concealed some of my contraband memories in
dirty socks, some I stirred in the shampoo and others I
squeezed in a bottle of French cologne.  Memories were all I
had to live for.  Fortunately my suitcase went through
security checks at the airport with all illicit items undetected. I
sighed in relief when I finally settled in my seat in the plane
and fastened my seatbelt.

    Two hours later, the plane was cruising at 36,000 feet
altitude and I was taking a sweet nap when I suddenly felt a
draft. The exit door that I was leaning against was rattling
and I feared it may ruin my historic flight. So I did what any
other concerned passenger would do in a similar situation.  I
pushed the button overhead and a few moments later a flight
attendant was looking down on me.

    “What is it this time?” She sniped.

    “Look! The door is rattling!” I said.

    “We’re flying at 500 miles per hour and thousands of feet
above ground. What do you expect me to do? Just don’t pay
attention to it.”

    I could see her point but sleeping with the hissing noise,
the rattling door and sharp needles of airs poking on my face
was impossible.

    “May I change seats?” I pleaded.

    “Don’t you see we have a full flight?”

    “But I’m not comfortable.”

     “I don’t care for your attitude. First I offered you a
complimentary refreshment of your choice Coke, water or
coffee, and you asked for cranberry juice.   Then you
insisted on getting a free headset to watch the movie when
there is a two dollars charge for it. And now you’re
complaining about a little draft.” She was pointing her finger
at me.  

    A few minutes later, the door was shaking violently but no
other passenger was alarmed. How could I possibly rest like
that? I wondered.  I had a legitimate concern about a faulty
door. Was I not entitled to a hassle-free flight? As much as I
was annoyed by the rude stewardess, I kept quiet to avoid
further complications. She had already threatened me. “One
more peep out of you and I report you to the captain as a
potential security risk and you’ll be in a lot of trouble when
we land Mister.”

    I could not jeopardize my future for such insignificant
travel discomforts so I ignored the nuisance draft and closed
my eyes to see beautiful dreams, but the exit door kept
shaking, and the noise became excruciating and the wind
pressure intolerable.  In a matter of seconds and before I
could react to the situation I heard an ear piercing noise  and
saw the door being ripped out of the plane before I was
sucked out into the sky.  Aha, I said to myself, now I’m going
to file a formal complaint against the airline, demand an
apology for their poor customer service and a full ticket
refund.  As I was tumbling in sky, I realized I’d left my
passport and travel documents in the overheard
compartment and all my memories were going to a wrong
destination.  Before I got a chance to grief for my losses, I
thunderously crashed into the ground. At least I was rid of
the unpleasant flight and its rude stewardess.

    In a split second, when I rammed into the ground at such
accelerated velocity, the enormous force of impact wedged
me deep inside the earth.  When I regained my
consciousness, I found myself buried in a very uncomfortable
tight spot. The jet lag, the free fall and the crash caused a
little headache but this was not the time to be wimpy. I had to
be tough, get out of the hole immediately and start my new
life.  The good news was that I could see the light of day from
where I was stuck.  It took me a long time and lots of hard
work to crawl my way out of that hole and resurface.

    When I came out, I was completely dazed.  Everything
around me was so different from where I came from.  I was
now in a foreign land with no money, no identity and no
memory of the past. As I was wandering in crowded streets in
my ragged clothes, mussed hair and untidy appearance
contemplating my next course of action, I was hit by a
passing automobile. Once again, I found myself vaulting in
the air before I collapsed on the hood of a speeding car. A
few frightened pedestrians came to help me off the ground
asking questions I didn’t understand. I was completely
disoriented and uttering words more incomprehensible to
myself than to others.

     Then I found myself surrounded by a police patrol car,
an ambulance, a sanatorium vehicle and a black unmarked
car filled with government security agents. All these
authorities stormed toward me and tackled me down to the
ground. Since I could not communicate with them in any way,
they were all confused on how to proceed.  The first order of
business for them was to figure out who was or what I was
before they could determine what to do with me and where to
take me.  I was the center point of an intense altercation.
Two paramedics grabbed my hand and dragged me to the
ambulance while a huge police officer seized one of my left
feet and pulled me to his cruiser. My other left foot was
clutched in the hands of secret service agents and my free
hand was being forcefully put into a straight jacket by the
mental hospital staff.  As I was fighting for my life with my
teeth and claws to escape these maniacs, I was zapped by a
TASER gun and collapsed.   

    The next time I opened my eyes, I was in a cage.  Since
then, I’ve been analyzed by experts of various fields to
determine who or what I am.  I’ve lost my speech capabilities
in the recent crashes. My hands are deformed so I cannot
write although I can manage holding a pen to scribble on
paper.  Everything I doodle is being carefully analyzed by
scientists. I’m being treated cordially and listened to
attentively. I’m being washed and fed properly every day.   I
must admit I like the attention I receive. On Wednesdays, a
group of researchers connect wires to my body and my head
and study every reaction of mine to heat, cold and various
sound frequencies.  One day they held a mirror to my face. I
was unrecognizable. My hands and feet have shrunk and my
body is swollen to four time its original size. At first I was so
frightened to see myself in the mirror then I realized this very
repugnant disfigurement was my allure. If they discovered I
was a human being then I’d be facing all kinds of legal
challenges including jail and deportation and the
consequences would be disastrous.

     During my stay here, I managed to learn my captor’s
language but I pretend otherwise.  I’ve carefully
contemplated my strategy. I don’t act too dumb to be
mistaken for an animal of some sort yet I don’t reveal my
intelligence capabilities to the fullest extent, otherwise they
may lose interest in me.

    There are a host of agencies, university professors and
researchers interested in me but I enjoy spending time with a
voluptuous female anthropologist who visits me every week.
Over time, I’ve built good rapport with her but she still doesn’t
feel safe to come inside my cage.  After every session we
have together, she slides a piece of meat into my cell before
she leaves to reward my cooperation. This lifestyle of mine
has its own restrictions.  

    Since I cannot verbally communicate, occasionally I draw
bizarre shapes on the paper to have a little fun in captivity.
One day I drew an abstract middle finger just to enjoy
watching the puzzled looks on the art experts. Based on what
I gathered, they’re still baffled about how to proceed.  If I’m
declared an extra-terrestrial creature, then the top secret
government agencies would take my custody and only God
knows what they would do with me. If I’m a human being
therefore an illegal alien then according to the law, I’d
promptly be deported to where no one knows.  On the way
back to wherever the destination is, in the ship, they’d make
me peel potatoes to pay for my travel expenses. None of
these are desirable outcomes. Freedom is not an option,
captivity is.  As long as I exist in this state of limbo, I can play
the system and survive.