Sing me a lullaby and caress me to sleep, Mother
Hold me in your arms and never let me go
I’m afraid I’m falling, falling endlessly
It is a pain that I can no more endure
The cough syrup bottle sits on my side table. It doesn’t, but there is no harm in my imagining its existence within my reach. I know where it is, though, in reality. I know that if I get up, off the bed, walk to the kitchen and open the fridge, it will be there, in the side pocket of the fridge door – chilled to the perfect temperature.
I have this bad tingling sensation in my throat. I can’t quite describe it to you. It’s the kind of sensation when you wish to speak but no words come out or when you don’t wish to speak and the random facts about your embarrassing childhood traumas come tumbling out, one after the other. It’s the itch you have that you can’t reach, like spiders crawling just beneath the surface of your skin, but not inside your throat because you can’t feel them there. They’re invisible beings – light in their movements, swift in their stead, but they leave behind their trail in the form of an itch that cannot be scratched.
Clearly, you will agree with me – I need cough syrup. I need it desperately. It will surely help me breathe better and will help me go to sleep because the itch, you see – the itch does not let me sleep. I try and I try. I follow the old trick of counting sheep, but soon I’m shearing all of them and making wool and handing it to my grandmother so that she can knit me a new sweater. I try saying God’s name over and over again, but it soon gets lost and loses all meaning, the same way you say a word repetitively and it will lose all sense and sensibility.
Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Do you see what I mean? Now it’s just a word that starts with a capital L and has an f in the center of it. It could just as well be pronounced <liffee> or <leef> and it holds no meaning whatsoever.
The word, indeed, has lost all meaning. I’m certain that some will argue that the word is very important – it denotes a system of being, an ascertainment of being alive and a purpose to continue to push your boundaries and fight through all the torments that are thrown your way in this video game – but I can relate to it no more. It floats off my tongue like the dandelion rolls off my fingers and floats away in the wind, light on the breeze and itchy on the throat.
Ah! The itch. Yes. It is that very itch that I would like to eradicate. You must think that I wish to have cough syrup because the word has lost all meaning for me. Alas, not at all! I am not an irrational being. I understand that a word losing meaning or the concept losing meaning altogether are not necessarily the best of things to happen to someone, but are completely repairable and can be fixed with a little effort and a lot of will power. No. It is only this itch you see.
I can show you a prescription if you like. Oh – you would like to see it?
Here you go.
See – right there. Second last from the bottom of the page. It says that I can have cough syrup in case of a bad cough or should my asthma act up. I grant you that my asthma has been under control for a while now and that is not acting up at all (though should I be in the vicinity of dandelion seeds, it surely will act up – allergies, what can you do about them?) but this itch.
I would surely go to a doctor and tell him about the itch, but what if the doctor should think me crazy or mad? What if the doctor should think that the itch is a construct of my imagination? A blueprint of my mind – an excuse that I am giving myself, simply to have cough syrup. No. I cannot trust a doctor to be in the right state of mind whilst examining me. No. He will just make excuses for he does not want me to have the cough syrup, for the company perhaps does not pay him very well for its representation. He might want to refer me to a psychiatrist – but I’m not mad. I assure you. I’m not crazy.
It’s just an itch. I could scratch it all the same, if that’s what you think I should do but then I’m scared I’ll scratch my skin off and that will leave a nasty scar just below my Adam’s apple. And I have enough scars as it is. Look. Here. On my arm – I got this one while playing football. And this, here, on my thumb – I got this while cutting vegetables. Yes, the knife got away from me. Tricky little utensil I tell you. It’s almost as if it has a mind of its own with such a sharp edge. And it’s that very edge, the fine edge, that I’m straddling at this moment.
But I know that if I take the cough syrup, I’ll want to take more – I’ll want to take it until the itch is gone. And I’m no doctor, but I’ve been told I’m smart, and I don’t really think that just one table-spoon of the stuff is going to be enough to do the trick. I think I’ll need to just keep taking spoonfuls until it halts. It’s so bad, I could put one of these knives down my throat just to scratch it, but, again, that’ll leave a nasty scar, and it’s a scar that we don’t want. It just ruins the whole image of a person and makes them seem so clumsy. No.
I can almost imagine it: taking out the bottle from the fridge, struggling to get its cap open (these pilfer-proof packages really annoy me you know), and then putting the cold bottle to my lips and sipping on it like a baby going at his feeder until his thirst is quenched – until my itch is gone. And soon, the itch will be no more.
And I’ll be able to come back to the bed and fall asleep.