Chapter 3:

Maybe, I am but a Withered Flower (Part 3)

The Curious Case of Clemsey

"All ghost when examined, are just withered flowers,” an adage that inculcated its way deeply into my mind, was Aunt Gigi’s response, when I told her how afraid I am of the hospital and its harshly silent hallways.

My parents are both professionals in the field of medicine and are working on the highly prestigious and renowned Port Ami Medical Center and Research Institute. Jiro Akisa, my father has been serving for years under the department of pharmacy and is also a part-time professor in the hospital’s research institute. My mother, on the other hand, is a well-known Neurosurgeon and is holding a high position at the hospital and has an excellent reputation on her shoulders. “In conversation with Dr. Hana Akisa, one of the best in the country, a genius...” all those things and more were stated in several newspapers and magazine articles, my mom handed over to me one time when I was in elementary.

“See this Clemsey, this is about Mom,” she said while holding up the magazine article to my face. “Someday, you should strive for this yourself. Work hard and study. Understood?”

“Mom, what is a neurosurgeon? Aunt Gigi told me you open a person’s brain and read it like a book. Is it true?”

I saw Mom twitched her left eyebrow and obviously contemplating a way to answer a question of an elementary school kid. “Clemsey, a neurosurgeon is a medical doctor that specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of one’s nervous system."

“Got it, thanks Mom. But that actually triggered much more bigger questions in my brain" - of course I didn’t actually say that.

“Clemsey, from tomorrow onwards, you will stay with me and Dad in the hospital after school. Observe and read books. I can’t let you stay at home and watch anime or sleep. Those are for kids.”

“Those are for kids! Mom said, while Dad didn’t even say anything!" I complained endlessly to Aunt Gigi the following day and everyday of my life, that I am losing a semblance of what childhood is. I tried to argue my way out of it with “It is a common knowledge that children aren’t allowed in the hospital” - but that too, died along with my youth and my courage. A whole lot of things changed in my life. What were supposed to be playgrounds, ice cream parties with friends and laughter over silly jokes, turned into a suffocating research institute office, a tall stack of medical books and harrowing death cries. When I first started visiting the hospital, my parents’ colleagues would always comment something like, “oh, what a pretty child,” or “whoah, you are so cute!” However, that too, later on turned into, “oh my, this child is a genius.” I am no genius, I am forced to be one. All my emotions piled up, becoming a catalyst for a change that took place one after another. In the end, I turned into a coward.

Ghost of various forms began to terrify me. Once, I ran crying to my Mom when the old lady in the hospital met her tragic fate. “Yes, the one who used to give me sweets with a sweet smile, Mom, she is lonely, she died lonely,” I said with a trembling voice. My mother, leaned over to me, patted my head and said, “it’s okay. She fought hard.” With a pained countenance, she left me behind standing in sheer disbelief, my tears didn’t even bother to continue falling. How familiar, I thought. It made me remember that one time I also ask my father a pressing question in my mind. “Dad, I wonder, aren’t you ever afraid?” I asked with curiosity in my eyes. “I am dear, everyday. It doesn’t ever go away. You just have to learn how get used to it,” he said wearing the same expression as my mother’s.

You have to learn how to get used to it -is that the right thing? Did the nurse who kept crying over the death of her patient learned how to get used to it? Did the sweet old lady learned how to get used with the painful reality of solitude in her death bed? Do I need to just learn how to get used to all the ghosts I see everyday?

“No, you deal with it Clemsey, the same way you have to deal with those books at the science section,” Aunt Gigi said when I helped her out with library duties one afternoon.

Aunt Gigi, my father’s older sister, also the owner of The Meliora Library was the one who firmly hold my hand and taught me how to deal with all of my ghosts. When I asked her the same question I did to my father, she responded, “Yes, everyday and there is nothing wrong with being a coward, unless you choose not to deal with it. Look at something hard enough, you’ll find that sometimes the things you are most afraid of are nothing but withered flowers.”

Turning cowardice into curiosity can make you less afraid, I guess...

That said, I can’t be thankful enough for having been enlightened by Aunt Gigi’s words before it’s too late, for when my little brother Enith was born, all I can think of was my fervent desire to always protect him. My resolve to be brave for his sake was solidified.

On my last year in middle school, after a long, arduous talk with my parents, Aunt Gigi took me under her wing as an assistant librarian at The Meliora Library. My soul felt so free, after a very long time.