As I entered the room, a putrid smell rushed into my nostrils.
Holding my two younger sisters’ hands tightly, I slowly stepped towards a pale skinny feeble body lying on a white bed in the middle of the room. When I could see him closer, I found the source of the smell.
Next to his cut-open stomach and under a large transparent plaster, a transparent bag with tubes and cords connected to medical devices around the bed contained light clay-colored liquid and a part of his intestine. I tried to breathe in and out, deeper, and louder so my sisters did not think the smell actually existed.
A red, wet, and tired-eyed woman standing next to him said, “Come take a look at your dad before he’s gone.”
In 2008, my dad was dying because the doctor wasn’t professional enough and didn’t know what he did wrong in what was supposed to have been a minor intestinal surgery. My dad ended up getting 20 more intestinal surgeries from at least three surgeons, and being in different hospitals for two years with my mom next to him. My sisters and I were sent, along with a few necessary clothes and other possessions, to stay with our relatives who worked in a textile factory and lived a 2-hour flight away in Bangkok. My house and belongings were abandoned.
During those two years, no plan was made, all plans were canceled, and no future was seen for me. My dad is the only one in the family who works; my mom has always been a housewife. Without Dad working there was no money running in the family. My sisters and I ate nothing but spaghetti with tomato sauce or microwaved eggs for every meal, every day. We lived together in a room in our relatives’ house. Social media was not a thing and neither were smartphones. We didn’t contact any friends and got to talk to our mom once a month.
Luckily my dad survived. However, not only did I become used to eating anything, living in any conditions, and living with myself, but I also became scared of making a plan. I always think about possibilities in that they can get cancelled. I stopped collecting what I like (except money) and buying unnecessary stuff because I would have to leave them behind if an undesirable, unforeseen event were to happen. I fear leaving my shit and responsibility to others. Death, sickness, and a sudden loss of money can come anytime and can swiftly and cruelly snatch away the ability to continue and even create any plans.
Also through this process, I started to love going to the hospital and school. At the hospital, when making an appointment, I grew fascinated by how doctors are so certain that they can keep their schedules and appointments. At school, I love homework deadlines, classes schedules, and all the meetings. I never get mad when a plan changes or gets canceled. As long as there is a chance to make plans, it is more than amazing. I have become very flexible.
However, as time has passed I have let myself loose and live a happy, relaxing life. Coming to Carleton, I found everything so stable – there was no sign of drastic changes. Terms, schedules, deadlines were operating finely. I started to put posters I like up on my wall. I bought cute, unnecessary plushies, candles, and other room decorations. I made plans for each Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, and next terms. Then, I followed and enjoyed them, without fearing what might happen. For a while, I thought I had escaped the hand of uncertainty… until the pandemic hit. My undesirable old friend now comes in a different form and grandly introduces itself and what it is capable of to others in the world. I don’t mean to sound like I know best about this sad and unpredictable time, because it affects different people differently. However, for me it’s just a reminder that once again I can never escape uncertainty. But I no longer care if I’m afraid of making plans or not. I embrace my fear hard, live with it, and will always be ready for it, though it is better if it doesn’t come.