THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY
Down in the graveyard where we have our tryst/ The air smells sweet, the air smells sick/...I know his name, he’s called Mr D/ And one of these days he’s gonna set you free/ Lord I was dancing, dancing, Dancin’ with Mr D
– The Rolling Stones
THERE ARE very many contenders for the Best Day of My Life, several of which I’d share with most human beings, such as wedding day (which I liked enough to have a couple of, at least) and birthdays of children (which, again, I liked enough to have two). Each of those children (and all of the wives), in only birthdays, anniversaries and Christmases, Divalis and Eids, have added many more days that made me feel I was soaring through the air, I was so deliriously happy.
Add the joyful events in the lives of direct and extended family and close friends and throw in professional satisfactions (again, from at least two professions) and it would be a fairly long list from which to sift just one Best Day of My Life.
But it’s very easy to say which of the 23,127 days of I’ve lived so far was the worst.
August 31, 2001.
The day my son, two months away from his second birthday, nearly died.
A mere toddler, but a very speedy one, my son was cured that day of his habit of running around with his tongue clamped firmly between his front teeth, because he tripped, fell and hit his chin on a concrete bench. And all but bit off his own tongue.
Only two thin strands of tissue at either side stopped it from falling right off.
The next morning, you could barely see the line where it had rejoined after being almost completely severed.
But in the nine hours between his injury and his salvation, it bled. First like a stuck pig and, after the emergency room treatment, like a dripping tap needing a washer.
Back home after the hospital released him, he told me his tongue was hurting him, I put him on the kitchen counter, knelt below him and asked him to stick his tongue out.
My son vomited his life’s blood over me. I was drenched in it. The quality of my scream brought my wife running out of our bedroom in time to see his second projectile vomiting of blood. It was like that elevator sequence from The Shining. When I got back home hours later, the kitchen floor looked like a murder scene.
We had to take him back to St Clair from St Ann’s. At 7 pm on Independence Day. Fireworks night.
I drove up Terracita Avenue to Lady Chancellor Road like I was in the final lap at Nascar, my wife in the back seat, our son in her lap.
At the Maraval roundabout, seven lanes of traffic were gridlocked. As long as I live, I will be grateful to the stranger who parted enough cars so I could drive directly over the roundabout. Every second counted.
Bathed head-to-toe in his blood, I ran through the emergency room lobby with my son in my arms; 19 years later, I can remember the looks of horror on the faces of the people I passed.
In the long, long, minutes after I plopped him on the surgical table, I did my best to remain calm and try to assist the doctor.
But I could do nothing but watch my son turn as white as flour.
His eyes rolled up to whites. His eyelids fluttered. His lips went ash-grey. His veins and arteries were about to collapse.
I didn’t know it was called hypovolaemic shock at the time. But I knew my son was dying from loss of blood.
And then the calvary arrived, in the person of Dr Wendell Dwarika. He is a humble man and shies away from public attention, I’m told.
But I swear that, if he had not come into that theatre that day – and thank you, Stuart, for that small, vital and miraculous connection – my son would not have celebrated his 21st birthday last month.
So, though I don’t want to embarrass him, the very least I can do, now that my son is a grown man, is thank the man who saved him when he was the littlest of boys.
And acknowledge that it was only Dr D who prevented me from dancing with Mr D.
BC Pires is dancing with delight