It started with a meeting I had at Marina. I was more of a tag along and had been going to the toilet frequently. I drank a lot of water to settle my stomach, wore my shirt, a touch of makeup, and I was ready for the meeting.
The meeting stretched into the day and gradually my stomach became restless. I felt the first rumble, not the cute hunger rumble, but the rumble that signals that your bowels need to be emptied. The intensity increased into something that felt like a tumble. I wore a fake smile to numb the pain; I was in a high executive meeting, I had to compose myself. A little nod here, a smile there, a little more before I paid the toilet a visit.
It gave me the first serious sign as we were going to use the lift. I couldn’t ask for the toilet, I thought I had it in me to keep still till I got back to the Mainland. If there was a way I could have used a toilet around, I would have. My partner at the meeting was unaware. We got into a friend’s car and I was on fire, my stomach crushing, my whole system aching for the toilet. The journey felt like a travel. I had to make sure I was stiff, any movement could release anything. That would be disastrous. I endured, until I started sweating.
I remember feeling uneasy, frustrated and tired. I remember running to get a cab to my hostel. I remember being rigid at the back of the cab. It felt like any movement I made would activate something chaotic. I remember almost slamming the cab door on the person that was supposed to alight after me.
My thinking faculty was on recess. The closer I got to my hostel, the harder it became to control myself. I remember bracing it to my hostel, flying to my room, then rushing to the toilet. I can still feel the relief, the joy. I made it! It was gruesome, it was difficult, it was terrible, but I made it.
At that point, I said to myself, this is a sweet moment. A few hours earlier I was having a terrible time, but at that moment the relief cascaded into happiness. I was ecstatic in the toilet. What a joy realizing you are happy at a particular moment.
I can remember three of such uneventful events in my life that later made it to my happy memory gallery. I also recall my friend’s experience, one I promised to share one day.
We were on our way to church on a moody Sunday. Bear in mind that it was a mainland to island journey. We were about ten minutes in and my friend grabbed my hand that she wanted to use the toilet. She mentioned she was having a running stomach and probably ate something to upset her stomach. I thought it was the usual, so I told her to hold it in for a while. She looked into my eyes and I could sense fear, we were in a BRT bus heading in one direction. There was no way; it was on a Sunday morning, most places were closed. I held her hand to encourage her. Nothing mattered at that point, all our attention was directed at making it successfully. She started sweating profusely and I knew it was on another level. If it was a feeling she could mask, she would have at the beginning.
She withdrew her hands from mine and made an attempt to stand. I gave her the “Are you thinking look?” We were either surrounded by water or shipping vessels. What do you want to do? Where are you going to? I tried in so many ways to encourage her. It was a pity that my training in psychology did not prepare me for that specific human experience. We finally made it to the church and she bolted to the toilet. I can imagine her relief when she emptied her bowels. I had been there. When we saw each other in the church, there was a knowing smile. What a bittersweet feeling!
These are memories that sneak into my head and I smile, sometimes laugh. Yes, highlight reels are beautiful, but these experiences uniquely bind us as humans. One way or the other we have all been at that position, one way or the other we have felt the relief in excreting even if we squeeze our face when we want to flush.
I want to reflect and reach deep to pull out these memories that we never get to share, experiences beyond fancy restaurants we visited or shows we enjoyed. These experiences are valid, yes, they matter. However, we should not relegate these bittersweet moments into nothingness. They matter too.
Did you survive a similar experience?
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