A Tiny Fish
A Tiny Fish avatar

The sun shines

Over hills and mountains

And wakes up everyone

In this enormous universe,

And you’re a tiny fish,

Lives in the deep blue sea.

I swim ups and downs;

With dad and mom,

No rules to follow,

Only fun down here.

Said mother one day:

Don’t go far away.

Humans are not welcomed here;

For them you must look;

Be careful from their shiny hooks.

They painfully kill,

Happy they’re when you dangle

From their sharp hooks.

Put you on a can;

With a tuna-fish ribbon,

Swallowed by an old man

Reading “In Bed” by Joan Didion.
Reading “In Bed” by Joan Didion. avatar

One of the common things to humans is that everybody in this universe gets sick in their lives. In Joan Didion’s essay “In Bed”, she talks about her life with migraine headaches. Didion’s headaches usually occurred more than three times per month, meaning she had to spend most of the time in bed during these attacks. At the beginning, she denied having severe migraine on “the application form” that was given to her to tick. She lied and ticked “sometimes”, while in fact, she was attacked frequently. She felt angry, irritated and resentful of those attacks, but was relieved because she didn’t suffer from other diseases, such as “brain tumor, no eyestrain, no high blood pressure,” and tried to live her life normally, going to school, attending lectures and then working, trying to resist and deny migraines. This was despite her tears falling like a river from “the right side of her face”, vomiting and abnormally walking to home. Didion inherited migraine from her family as she explains “both my grandmothers had migraine, my father has migraine and my mother has migraine.”

Didion points out that none of the medicines she was prescribed could cure migraines. Nothing could stop migraine when they started.  Sufferers might have hallucinations, and in Didion’ case, she could neither see nor speak clearly. It was as if she was drunk. The actual headaches caused “chills, sweating, nausea, a debility that seems to stretch the very limits of endurance,” and those are the migraines symptoms.

Overall, she was happy to have a husband who suffered from migraine, so when she was under the attacks of migraine, he would understand her pain and would not simply say: “go and take a couple of aspirin,” like other people who hadn’t suffered from and hadn’t known how migraine was so agonizing. She didn’t only hate the attacks of migraine but also the attacks of people who neither had enough knowledge nor feelings of how migraine happened and how they were very painful.

What was more painful to Didion was how a doctor once said to her that “migraine personality” was the cause of her migraine. He pointed out that her migraine was made up by her inward, over ambitious nature and her intolerance of mistakes. The doctor also claimed that Didion’ appearance is not like a migraine personality because her hair was messy. Even though she agreed with the doctor, she thinks that perfectionism could take a form of writing and re-writing one paragraph for a week.

At the end of the essay, Didion accepted her migraine and stopped denying it. She came to regard her migraine as one of her friends. She opened the window and breathed the fresh air. She felt that she was blessed by God. She was happy.

In her essay Didion was narrating her personal experiences of suffering with migraine in order to support her main theme which is educating readers about migraine headaches. She provided under her main theme many sub-themes that are illustrated in her essay. One of the themes is how she denied the presence of migraine’ pain when she lied in “the application form” by putting a tick on “sometimes” while she was attacked frequently. She ignored the warnings sent by migraines and she wished for a doctor who could do her a favor by doing “lobotomy on house cell” and cursing her imagination.

It is a fact that every patient goes under the denying stage of their illness, just like Didion, who wanted to run away from the real world of pain and from staying in bed for days to the fantasy world where she could live her life normally like the other people.

Unlike the writer when I get headaches, I immediately take one or two tablets of aspirin. From an early age, when I had headaches, my mother would ask me to take a couple of aspirin. Now, I do not ignore the pain or imagine that I am okay, maybe because I am aware that ignoring and denying are not useful to get rid of headache pain. Two weeks ago, I had got a headache for 9 days and I was terribly afraid that I was dying. I felt my head was about to explode because the pain was unbearable. After the doctor checked me and wrote that I only needed some tablets of aspirin.

“Doctor, am I dying? Are those my last days?” I was about to cry.

“No, no. You need only to drink 4 bottles of water every day and take these tablets. You will be okay.” She smiled, “Don’t be scared.”

My headache was caused because of the dry hydration, shortage of water in my body. Thanks to Allah (God), I overcame the headache by following the doctor’s advice.

One more theme that Didion insisted on is how people react toward her migraine. People who have never got headaches simply advise migraine patients to take a couple of aspirin, while un-afflicted people attack migraine patients by claiming that they get headaches too. However, they still enjoyed their days. More than that is how doctors may blame migraine sufferers for causing migraine to happen by claiming that they have “migraine personality”, that this type of personality causes migraine to happen and attack the patient. Didoin wanted her readers to understand her pain and not to prejudge her according to their experiences of headache because hers is different from theirs. She pointed out that people could see patient’s suffering but they could never feel their pain.

Like Didion, there was nothing more irritating to my nephew than a visitor who hadn’t had hypertension advising him “Inta mahsood. [You got an eye]. You should go to someone to read Quran to you.” And another visitor would advise him to stop being bad-tempered because they thought that my nephew was worrying too much. Those who are ill, not only suffer from the illness itself but the attacks of people they know and don’t.

Even though Didion had written about a medical topic “migraine” in this essay; she executed the essay in an approachable way, joining medical terms with her own migraine experiences. Using “I” to tell stories shows that the writer is like a friend to the readers. It is intimate. Didion used the first person point of view “I” because she wanted her readers to share her personal experiences. Using the first person point of view “I” allows readers to understand and get what is inside Didion’s head. She did not want to challenge her readers. Her main aim was to make every single reader feels the pain and understands her position.

“In Bed” is a good example of the personal essay because of the strong presence of Didion behind every line that she had written in the essay, and that makes the essay appreciated by readers. In this essay, the writer did not use phrases, “the symptoms of migraine are, the treatment of migraine is and migraines is…” that signal out to the readers her points and ideas immediately. However, Didion used high techniques to join her experiences with migraine, medical facts and narration indirectly.  Her voice was in every line from the beginning of the essay to the end, “I spend the day in bed with a migraine headache,” and the second sentence too, “I feel the sudden irrational irritation,” and at the end, “I count my blessings.”(2)

The readers also are influenced by “In Bed” because the essayist (Didion) was knowledgeable about her topic. She had experienced the events and knew exactly how to attract her readers by using simple and direct language to share her own experience of migraine.                 

In short, reading this essay can teach us a lot of information about migraine headaches in an easy and a plain way. Readers get to know the definitions, symptoms and causes of migraine headaches. Also, they learn what the difference between migraine headaches and the normal headaches is. I learned a lot of things from this essay besides the information of migraine headaches; I learned more about the essay structure and how Didion used different techniques to make her ideas and experiences accessible to readers.

 

 

 

ABC Writing
ABC Writing avatar

 

“ The Jinni

Around her in a dark night, the small children of the family were gathered in a circle. Behind my grandmother, there was a picture of date-palms hanged on the wall. Cutting the quiet, she said “There was a jinni called…” Dreadful feelings went through out the children’s body as the mention of the word “jinni.” Eyes were closed. Fear knocked at their hearts because they knew my grandmother was going to tell a scary story. “Golden hair glowed from her enormous head that you could see her in the darkness,” my grandmother completed her story. Horrible, angry wind hit a window in the setting-room. I could not move and I was frozen in my place.

Jalila, was the oldest child among us, had covered herself with a dark cotton blanket to hide from the jinni. “Cold, isn’t it?” Jalila said. Letting her fear fly to the sky, she went to drink some water. My grandmother continued her tale, “The jinni does not like naughty children because at night she prefers to play alone and she does not like anyone to disturb her.” Nodding my head, I would never play at night, never! Stupid jinni! Why wouldn’t she want children to play at night?

One, two, three…, I closed my eyes whishing all the jnnies to die and vanish from the earth. People don’t believe in the existence of jinn but I do. “Quiet. Quiet!” My grandmother shouted at my younger brother to sit calmly; lest he disturbed the ugly jinni. Right to my hand, my cousin listened very carefully to the story because he wanted to remember the story forever. Soon, it would be nine o’clock and I had to go to sleep but the story had not been finished.

Tonight, I hoped that the jinni was playing in another village. Ultimately, I was happy that my grandmother had shared the story with us because it is part of our Omani tradition and culture. Voices were shut down, and we had all frozen in our places; even my grandmother did not move. Wedad scared us because she wore a black a’bia and knocked on the door so all of us thought that she was the jinni from the story.  X and Y, we all of us turned to black and white from fear. Yelling all together while my brother cried with tears. Zealous intention came to me to hit Wedad in her head and if I could ask the jinni to come and slap Wedad, I would ask her to do so.

Hateful Things!
Hateful Things! avatar

  •  One is in a hurry to catch up with an important appointment with a VIP, Very Important Person, meets an old friend in his way to the appointment. He spends a long time chatting about his new achievements and forgets for a while about his most important thing; his appointment! He runs without saying “Good bye” and finds himself alone in the meeting hall. They all have left. What a hateful situation!
  • One hates to lie and cover his brothers’ blunders, but sometimes he is forced to do so when he is threatened by his old siblings who usually will say “Do you remember when you stole some candies from uncle Mansoor’s shop?” and you will remain silent while looking at them with your sparkling eyes. What a hateful nightmare!
  • You are standing in front of a mirror watching some drops of sweat falling slowly from your forehead. You have washed your face with cold water to refresh after doing all the house chores. Suddenly, your little children came from the garden and their legs and hands are covered with mud. They turn tables, chairs and sofas upside down. Hands’ figures of mud are on the walls, windows and doors. Hateful view!
  • Feeling very sick; you have to go to the hospital. The smell is awful there; the smell of Dettol is everywhere and in everything. You cannot breathe very well. You have to wait in a long queue. You get sicker and promise not to come again. Hateful day!
  • You have arranged an appointment and you have waited for more than an hour before the appointment’s time. You have cancelled all of your work just to be there on time and finally you are relieved to see your instructor coming but he informed you that he has an appointment to see a doctor. This can be annoying but at the end of the day you will forget.
  • When you live in the countryside, it is very hateful to smell smoke rather than the odor of flowers and roses. You feel furious and start screaming and shouting at those who made a fire next to your peaceful home. Allah only knows what you will do if you have a gun.
  • It is very hateful when you are very eager to see some red blossoms are about to bloom and you frequently go to see if any one of them has done. To your harrow, every time some flowers bloom, someone took them before you. Till you decide to sleep all the night next to your flower -trees so you will get them first, but it is useless, goats eat them and run away before you can see them. Hateful cold night!
  • Flies are the most disgusting creatures in this earth because they fly around you making a spiral of air and they cause a lot of embarrassment when they fly near your nose while you are talking to someone. Shame on you flies!
  • You and I hate liars. They waste our time. They fill our heads with rubbish, make our life dark and full of pessimistic.
  • Someone has not slept the whole night because she was looking after her sick child. The next day, when she becomes very drowsy and about to sleep, a neighbor calls for a help and she for sure cannot say “No!” Oh how painful!
  • An old woman is telling a traditional story to the children of the family before they get into sleep when a late child entered and asked her to repeat the story again and then another child came late and do the same –what a nasty and horrible behavior!
  • Very hateful are mice when they eat all the dates that have been stored for winter.
  • I detest hearing dogs barking near our home especially when it is midnight. The dogs seem to me barking to gather evil spirits.
  • I cannot stand those people who enter my room without knocking or even greeting me. They enter, take what they want and then leave.
  • A lady has finished baking cupcakes and she is very pleased that she forgets to taste one of them. She is very proud of herself until she hears the guests shout of who has made those bad cupcakes. She feels embarrassed and wears a shameful smile. She goes out apologizing that her child put salt in the dough rather than sugar!
  • It is very hateful when you want to use a device and it does not work when needed. You get angry and furious; holding the device and breaking it to many pieces and finally you discover that you have not connected it to the electricity.