Tales from a Bona Fide Screw-up.

Archive for the ‘failure’ Category

How I Screwed Up My Ankle

I’ve screwed up my right ankle so many times I’ve almost lost count. It was like once I managed to sprain it, I put the ankle-spraining cycle in motion, and I pretty much had to do it once every couple’a years.

The first time was when I was about ten years old and my cousin Walter jumped high in play and landed on it. It was pain like I had never felt before.

"van Gogh knows what I'm talking about..."

If you’ve seen his feet, you would too.

Where I’m from, if you sprain any part of your body, you’ve fucked yourself. You’d be taken to some old bloke, who’d jam it back into place, and then you’d be required to have someone rub the injury with towel soaked in steaming hot water. You’d then have vapour rub on it and it would heal in about three days. The message is pretty simple: Don’t-Sprain-Your-Ankle.

The first time I’ve had this treatment I didn’t cry or even scream, and this was perceived to be so impressive that the “sprain healer” showered praises on me to my aunt, who had held both my wrists firmly in anticipation of the worst. She then told everyone that I “took” a bone-jamming, and I was something of a hero.

Fast forward to when I was in boarding school. Back then, we had a bunch of hobbies. My favourite was play-fighting, which we called Judo; guided, taught and refereed by our hostel supervisor, who was our sensei of sorts.

"Supervisor was almost as kick-ass as Mr Miyagi!"

On a daily basis we would square off in our room, and leave the arena open for two people at a time, who would either wrestle until someone tosses the other’s back on the ground (my WWE watching helped me here), or we would do our own version of Tae Kwando, where only kicks were allowed and points were won based on the number of kicks.

Now both sports were highly dangerous and could lead to fights (surprisingly, very few ever did – a post about the catalogue of the dangerous games we played at another time, eh?), but I loved them. Even when a couple of the senior students came into our room to take advantage of it to bully us, I’d volunteer and get my feet constantly swept aggressively off the ground. I knew I wasn’t the strongest or the most flexible with my feet, but I imagined myself a wily underdog. Kurt Angle, actually.

"Yeah, this guy... Sadly, it's true. It's true."

Now, around that time, my arch-nemesis was G Bobo. I didn’t -hate- G Bobo in as much as I loved making fun of him. He was just… kinda  a massive dork, and made it very easy for you to poke a little fun at his expense. Now Supervisor saw this mental bullying as me hating on G Bobo, and well, a little drama was always good for hostel entertainment. He knew G bobo had very long legs and could hold his own in “Tae Kwondo”, so on a tournament day when everyone was packed to perform and watch, it was Drowsy versus G Bobo.

Now obviously, I was very nervous about this. Defeat could be every humiliating for me. So I was very careful and thought of all the tricks I knew. Now, G Bobo must have been even more nervous about facing me, because very soon, I found myself 3 points up to none.

"x-o-x-o kick baby!! With love!"

Now at this point I must have gotten very cocky, or G Bobo – so close to defeat – must have had an epiphany, because he got me on a three hit combo with those long legs of his. I must admit, I could look back now and tell you they were very impressive; the first hit my legs and got me off balance, the second cleanly got me on my undefended under-arm, and the third thwacked me firmly on the head.

"3 point lead, gone! Just like that!"

This got my blood boiling for a number of reasons;

1. It was very painful (especially the one on the head).

2. Everyone else was very impressed by the 3-hit Combo so G Bobo now had crowd support.

3. The confidence of that move plus the cheer of the crowd meant G bobo was now on the front foot and was most likely going on to win this.

4. I’d let myself down, badly, with my zero resistance.

Unable to keep calm under pressure, I kicked wildly at G Bobo in retaliation, van Damne style.

"It's what van Damme would have done..."

G Bobo sensed very quickly that he needed a defense mechanism. And boy, did the somma bitch improvise. He defended with his hard-as-concrete knee, and CRACK!! Damn! That shit hurt!

"That's seiously how it felt."

I knew I couldn’t carry on. The foot started swelling like crazy. Supervisor and the crowd saw that my ankle had acquired some damage, but it was good drama stuff, so they urged me to carry on, which I did. I was determined not to show weakness and back out. To G Bobo, it must be something like this at this point…

"Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!!"

However, some diplomatic officiating by Supervisor saw the match finish 4-4. I immediately slumped on a bed and helplessly watched my foot swell up to the size of a loaf of bread.

Supervisor made me and G Bobo stand as he dramatically raised both of our hands as a sign that we were both impressive, and therefore victorious (again, very diplomatic by Supervisor). We didn’t seek treatment until all the matches were over. Even as I sweated painfully on the bed, I could see my friend, The Bad Man, laughing and poking at the foot, cherishing every moment of the pain in his badness.

Supervisor carried me on his back to the school nurse, who, from a distance, saw my bread-loaf foot from a  distance and wagged her hands vehemently. She sentenced me to the bone-jamming system, and my heart sank.


Supervisor, being Turkish, was not aware of how we usually treated sprains, and he asked me if I wanted that treatment. I told him I wanted to go to the hospital.

I quite enjoyed the hospital treatment. I had a pain-killer injection, an X-Ray taken of my foot, and a bandage wrapped gently around my ankle  by a quite pretty nurse. As a kind of gesture (brought about by his guilt, perhaps), Supervisor, who carried me everywhere on his back, decided to take me home for a couple of days. The story I was to give everyone was that I had suffered a football injury.

My home was quite close to my boarding school, and I loved the idea of spending a couple of days away. Everyone bought the football story and told me off for playing football without soccer-boots. My brother inadvertently helped with that; he found the story quite hilarious, and spiced it up a bit, telling everyone that I was going for a Beckham cross and laid the ball unto my right foot, ready to whip it in, when the defender knocked the ball away and I hit his knee instead.

Of course, I wasn’t complaining.

"David Beckham: the perfect alibi."

One thing I didn’t anticipate from my little retreat home was that in my house, the Bone Jamming Method was the spraining treatment of choice.

My family asked me whether my ankle was going to be alright and even though they weren’t totally convinced by my assertions, they let it play out. My X-Ray showed that I only had a sprain and the swelling was receding.

Noo, it was the workers that were the problem! Some of them almost seemed to have a personal flak against the hospital system. Too westernised, they said. They had a better method and the White Man and his system aren’t taking -this- away from them! One week is too long for an ankle to heal, noo! Not when it could be fixed violently straight away!

So they got me a bone-jammer. They didn’t even get me a good one! They got me this giant person who made his living as a labourer and electrician.

"Hagrid has got nothing against this fella!"

I’m serious! My foot looked like a biscuit in his hands! When he started I was determined not to yell. I was going to uphold my reputation of manliness! (Also, I had showed off to everyone that I did not scream the first time, and so my sister came to watch, specifically to confirm that I was, indeed, a yeller).

I had not factored a few things when my decision for not yelling was made;

1. This fella was significantly bigger and rougher than the gentle old man who fixed my foot the first time.

2. My ankle had already gone three days with a sprain – the first time, it was fixed on the day of the injury when it was still fresh.

3. Being about 3 years younger the first time, I would believe my bones were much more flexible and thus the pain would be easier to take.

So it was only a couple of seconds before…

He might as well have snapped the foot away and had it for dinner. It hurt.

Everyone laughed, and I trembled severely as I went back in to watch some TV and put this whole experience behind me.

Of course, after a couple of years I DID screw up my ankle again. I was playing football, and hit my best friend on the knee because he had dispossessed me and I was too eager to get the ball back.

"David Beckham, not so much."

I hate my life.


How I Screwed Up Biking

I don’t even know why my parents decided to get me a bike. It wasn’t anything I did – my parents don’t subscribe to this performance-based reward/punishment scheme. I get stuff in three ways: my parents go on a trip, I ask for something and they give me the money, or I beg. However, that day, my mother inexplicably got me and my brother in the car and we went to the bike place. I didn’t even know what was going on; I honestly thought we were getting the bike for someone else. I was made to wait in the car while my brother, who was visibly more excited than I was, went with my mother to get the bike. When they came back, I noticed my brother riding on the new blue and black bike, and that not only got me excited finally in anticipation, but also made me kinda mad that if that was MY bike, my brother was riding it first. So I gave him a death stare.

"Let's ride as father and son!"


Obviously, my brother told me he picked the bike for me, and I got very excited. I couldn’t wait to ride it at home! I’d do stunts and speed fast and do cool stuff!

[NOTE: As a kid, I had this idea that I would be naturally exceptional at all wheel stuff… bikes, roller-skates, skateboards, so I always imagine myself doing this…

"It's a-me, a-biking!"


… but end up looking like this…

"Really, how did he get up there?"


So when I got home, my eldest brother held the bike up for me to sit on confidently and he gave me a push. I lived my little fantasy for about five full seconds before I crashed sideways into a plant.

It wasn’t the first time, and it wasn’t the lowest point of me riding a bike. That was when my cousin, who -I- taught how to ride, beat me in a race, in a veeery waterlogged and dangerous road in front of his house, to cheering supporters. Hmm… that was definitely the lowest.

There were highs as well! I remember pretending to be one of the Famous Five, or the Five Find-Outers, riding around “snooping” for mysteries and adventures. I made mad theories about people I see on the street and even stalk sometimes. Occasionally, I was also the Blue Ranger. Oh yeah!

"I'm so cheesy, and appeal to kids!"

I guess I was feeling particularly bad ass the day that it all went wrong for me.

"I am bad ass!!!"

That was because I was just back from school and everyone else was praying at the mosque, and I was biking around showing off without a care in the world.

This episode was a couple of years after I got the bike. And my brother, who I went with to get it, had a friend over and they were passing by to his room, totally ignoring me. Now I wasn’t going to allow that. I shall not be ignored! I had to get attention! I HAD TO GET ATTENTION, DAMMIT!!

And so I sped.



Annnd sped…

"Joke's on you, brutha!"

And then sensed something was wrong.

See, the initial idea was to make as if I was going to hit the concrete fence that surrounded our barnyard animals and  their storage sheds, heighten their anxiety, AND then conduct an epic handbrake turn in the manner that we refer to as kotsiya!!! OOH YEAH!!

"Move aside, Scott!"

You could see a mile off how this not-so-full-proof plan could go wrong. And at this junction I am going to advise all of you readers to never try anything like this on a bike, should you feel an inexplicable need to show off.

It was the brakes.

As I reached to apply the right brakes, which was the good one, it swivelled 180 degrees to underneath the handle-bar to render it as useless as the left brakes – which were… pretty useless.

"I STILL don't get Physics!"

And I was left with my human instincts. At that particular moment, I knew if I hit the fence full force, I was going to topple overhead unto the barnyard with all those thorns and plants and some garbage and God knows what.

So I steered left as hard as I could without completely losing my balance, and was headed towards the gate to the barnyard. Man, that gate was some dangerous piece of shit, what with rotting spikes and all.

"Maybe steering left was a bad move.... ?

When I hit it and one of the spikes sank into my right cheek, I didn’t even feel it.

[Intended picture too gruesome to post]

How shocking must it have been to those praying in the mosque for a whizzing bleeding kid to run past them into the house. I can’t remember sensing clearly my mother lambasting me, my brother trying to explain what happened, my aunt immediately rushing to wash my face with the bottled water in her hand, and whoever it was that got me tissue for my face.

I couldn’t even remember clearly when I got into the car and went to the hospital. All I knew was that even though I felt like shit (mentally), I didn’t cry. You see, even though it is not hard to get me to cry, I usually cry over emotional hurts, not physical ones (even if they do accompany each other). And that injury was the fourth of the five prominent scars and wounds I have on my head. But more on that in forthcoming posts.

No, the closest I came to crying was the next day at school, which I dreaded going to since I saw the size of the bandage they put on my face. The first girl that saw my face laughed loudly and went and told everyone, and for the next hour, I sat with my face hidden by my arms.

I felt like this.


"I STILL feel like this."

However, my teacher, Uncle Thomas, told me to chin up. He assured me that it was just an injury, and I could do nothing about it. He addressed my concerns, and promised me that no-one would laugh. He asked me to relax. And I did!



All of them. Hysterical. Even the teacher.


"I hate my life."


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