The Lottery of Birth

In the summer of June 1st 1994, in the city of Madras a truly special baby was born. And then little while later I was born in the room nearby. A fairly average looking baby by “baby beauty standards”, I supposedly looked like a tiny rat according to my lovely Grandma. As I lay there in my mother’s arms crying my eyes out with my dad watching with a smile on his face, little did they know that this baby’s life was not going to pan out in the usual script.

Baby with feeding bottle

Drinking habit started at a very early age

A couple of years later, I was a bigger, naughtier and still not walking as well as babies should at that point. But apparently I was a pretty fast learner. I was reciting nursery rhymes as well as singing the popular Tamil song "Mustafa Mustafa" like a miniature AR Rahman. My parents fearing that something was off, took me to a doctor who did a full scan. They discovered that a small part of my tibia on my left leg had no bone marrow. As a baby there was nothing they could do back then so they said to just give it a few years and that it would get better with time as I grew older.

Parents with a baby

Let me go. Prabhu Deva is calling me!

The lottery of birth is pretty unfair. On one end of the spectrum you could end up being a genetic superhuman who crashed on a spaceship from another planet and then was adopted by Bill and Melinda Gates. On the other end you could be thrown into a dumpster by a mother who couldn’t afford to raise you, bitten by a dog to end up losing an arm and then put in an orphanage where the other kids called you a one-armed freak.

Either way the moment life begins, you’re screwed. There’s no going back into the comfort of the womb.

But then that’s the beauty of being human. We’re given this chance to do things that other life forms cannot even comprehend. We all have this inherent ability to move towards what’s good in life. Whatever struggles we may go through, there’s always a way out. It may not be straightforward and we may not always find it, but we sure can try. And sometimes the effort is all that counts.

Life may have dealt you the wrong card. I sure didn’t get an Ace of spades. But if you turn the card around, they’re all from the same deck in the end. Just pick another game that you’re better at and give it another shot. Well it’s easier said than done and I’m no 17 year old billionaire whizz-kid. But I did keep trying and I think today I’m back to level playing terms.

Back then I was still a child and little did I anticipate the shitstorm that was about to hit.

Kid with sunglasses

I was chill AF

I grew up without a glitch up until the year 2000. The next millennium wouldn’t be so kind to me as that was the year my sister was born. But more importantly that was the year that would change the course of my life. I was in the 2nd grade where my only worries were if I was the fastest kid in class and what snacks I’d get in the evening when I get back home.

Towards the end of lunchtime, after taking a piss, me and my friends started to race back to class. The bell had just rung and it was time for Hindi class, a subject that I had a very complicated relationship with over the years.

As I was growing up, my Dad kept telling me – “Don’t run too much Glen” and “Don’t jump from heights”. Being a kid why the fuck would I listen to such generic advice when every other kid was running and jumping off buildings thinking they were Shaktimaan.

Anyway I finally did learn why.

As I was running back to class, I was neck and neck with this other kid. I knew I could win this but then without warning, I was on the ground holding my left leg, writhing in pain. I had tripped on something and was crying there in agony as my friends watched helplessly. Ironically the Tamil teacher happened to pass by that time and she asked a couple of seniors to carry me to the school office.

So there I was, sitting in the school office sobbing, waiting for my Dad to come pick me up. He worked in the Indian Air Force and no he did not fly planes. Contrary to popular belief, there are only 4% of pilots in the Indian Air Force. He flew down to the school as soon as he could, put me on the back of his scooter and took me to the nearby Government run hospital.

They took an X-ray and the diagnosis was a fracture of the left tibia. It seemed like no biggie initially. I mean fractures happen to everyone all the time. Why should this be any different? They put on a plaster and I looked forward to the mini vacation I was getting from school.

So a month passed.

And then another.

And then another. But every time we went for a follow up with the doctor, the fracture was still there in all it’s glory. From that moment we knew that something more unusual was at play.

The lottery of birth is not kind to everyone. And the results of my roll of the dice didn’t show up until I was 6 years old. The next phase of life was going to be filled with some of the most gruelling experiences a child could face.