From Jester To King LXXXII
By Simon Barget
Right after birth I was removed from my mother and put in a cot in a hall. And I don’t know why I was taken and I just longed for her touch. I remember being hauled away and lying upwards in that cot, looking up, looking right and then left at the moulded plastic transparent sides, and feeling like I was separated from everything, like I couldn’t talk or speak or shout or scream or do anything to protest it. And how I was there for all that time without knowing what would become of me, where I’d be taken, how long I’d stay for and how confusing it all was, not to mention the surprising fact of actually being alive. There was this sort of muted fear, muted because the separation had already happened. And I remember all the other plastic cots in the corridor of the hospital and just being stuck next to them, not that you could see any of the other little tiny babies; you were so small yourself that the distances felt immense and unbridgeable, and you felt like you were in your own sea with nothing else in it and you would have to be alone in that sea for as long as it had been dictated. And then I remember this sense of frustration allied to this feeling of not being able to breathe, and how I felt certain that there should be someone there to help me, help me to know how to breathe, to meet my frustrations, but there was nothing and no one, and I was just left for what seemed like hours on end and then there was all my resentment at being left on my own. I knew that the hall was the periphery. I knew that the hall was for babies who didn’t belong, couldn’t get along, who couldn’t be normal, and why they were punishing me, because it certainly felt like a punishment, I had no idea, and I do remember thinking even then, well what could I have possibly done so soon in my life, perhaps not even a few days after birth, that could have earned me this privilege, warranted such treatment, but despite mulling it over, I became no clearer, and just laboured under this angst of separation in the horrible hall. And then I must have rejoined my mother at some time because I know my mother raised me, I know she looked after me when I was young. But I don’t know when and I don’t know how and I don’t know the details. And the details are what I want but they’re lost, they’re gone from the memory. And when I rejoined her she still couldn’t touch me, and though there were scant moments of love and nourishment I only recall this sense of being away and apart, and though she perhaps wanted to touch me as I grew up from toddler to boy, I resisted because it didn’t seem right.
And how I long to be touched. But I still feel those frissons from birth. And it is sometimes hard to touch, to console, to harness, to protect. And it is sometimes hard to receive. But that we all long to be touched is just a truth so universal and cast, it just can’t be dissipated or resisted by any fancy deflection.