Names won’t be necessary.
The boy was born without any deformity except that he was slightly underweight. It was a pleasantly natural birth. His mother had nourished him for entire nine months before she went through labor pains bringing him into this world. He showed all the traits of a normal and healthy baby, the parents were happy, everyone was happy. He started to grow up fast, like most of the kids of that time. He was hyperactive like them; always full of energy, like them. He did not know tiredness.
The first changes started to show when he was five. His joints around where the arm jutted into the rib cage seemed to grow (the end of scapula I think, somewhere near the sternum). It wasn’t painful, it was like any bodily change, he did not feel it, and nothing was abnormal. But his parents started to take notice as they caressed him at night while he slept on his stomach. He always slept on his stomach when he wasn’t sleeping in a fetal position. They felt the pinch of bones when they cradled him while watching television. They got worried, and saw many orthopedics. No one could tell for sure what was happening.
X-Ray report showed the bones in the back were slightly different, it was longer, and the two protrusions seemed to be coming from some kind of joint. Doctors called it malignant, cancerous but were not too sure because it did not fit the characteristics of one. No one can say that it cannot happen, though it is very unlikely. They kept the child aloof from their mental turmoil.
Alas, the world has a cruel way of treating outliers, and that the parents did not talk with the boy about something being wrong with him, the world did the talking on their behalf, in a bad, demeaning manner. He wondered what he was, was he even human, because that was the kind of things they compared him to, the kids, you know? He could only touch the bumps in his back but could not pull them out even if he desperately tried to, could not rid himself of this evil that clouded him everywhere he went. It only grew, and he continued to fight, in his mind.
By the time he was fifteen, he could no longer wear normal clothes, the two humps would just make everything prop up like a tent. On top of it, the two humps were hairy, they were flesh and cartilage, soft bone, like flaps on the back of a chicken, thick and long at the base, and kind of spreading out and thinning. And no, they did not give any physical pain, in fact they tickled a lot; the tornado ravaged his mental composure, tormenting him every time someone called out ‘look!’ His parents never stopped trying until then. They saw many doctors and experts that their bourgeois income could afford. Oh, his father was a telephone operator in the local exchange, and mother a baker and sold her cookies from a small counter abutting with their house. It was his mother who had it the worst. People would stop by with an excuse of buying cakes or cookies, the real intent obviously being different, to get a chance to have a look at the weird kid. She initially had tried to hide him, but that aggravated the situation and then she didn’t. She cried every time, you know, it’s kind of heart breaking that people just want to have a look, ‘that’ kind of look. They’d talk about him on their way back, she just knew it. Some felt pity, some pious people called him an ill omen and a few dared to be positive calling him a benediction. Being atheists, parents didn’t think of angels or demons, or even if they had a wandering thought, they kept the thoughts to their personal selves. They just thought it was an anomaly, a cruel joke of getting a straight when a coin was tossed. Ah, doctors and their science; they just want to dissect it up to see what happens. One of them actually took him to the surgery room, but not before receiving a life threat from his father. For some reason, he could not do it, he opened him up, and sutured him up; I think he did not want to risk his life on this, it was not his job. He never talked of it either. Parents never tried another doctor.
But he was an ordinary child by all means, except for those two ever growing flaps. Thanks to his physical awkwardness, the lecturers in college spared him the agony of stares and murmuring that went about in the classroom; the lecturers were no different, but probably out of sympathy and not to appear mean, they gave this concession. He studied from books at home and received the degree by post.
What solitude can do to a man, only a man can tell. He knew acceptance in society in this form was very hard, near to impossible. But with the voices and glares gone, he also learned to not hate himself for the chicken wings. He accidentally discovered that he could move them around while high on booze and when he woke up in a sober state, he thought he had dreamed. But then it happened again and he practiced till he got the hang of it. Those days of solitude were liberating, his dreams were taking flight. That is a good thing, and bad, for his dream was based on something that he could not show to the world in general. But this did not impede the growth of that thing on his back. His parents still worried, every day, feared for him because he was different, but they didn’t tell him that.
There was only one human place where he could be uninhibited and free, only two people with whom he could share the ecstasy of being able to move his pseudo limbs, his parents. He once told them that he thought they were wings, because the way they flanged gave them a streamlined appearance. But they were nothing like people often talk of in angels, the white feathery kind, dense and soft. They were growing like bat wings, intricate, firm, thin, but very, very hairy; they were furry at best, not feathery. Yes, they did look like to me sometimes. Parents were cautious, and he could notice now, as they had grown old and wrinkles revealed more than words could conceal. He knew he had to stop, stop making them nervous, stop hurting them. But he couldn’t run away either.
He didn’t make any human friends, for his own sake. It’s not that he had not tried, he had tried to compensate for his rather grotesque physical appearance with a very friendly demeanor. But people were not interested in what was normal about him, everyone, no matter how much they pretended to not care, only cared about his, umm, wings. Strangers would see his unassuming advances as threat, the friendships he received were no better than alms from sympathetic people for a miserable. But he did find friends, who tickled his wings every day. The four legged creatures. Dogs and horses. Surprisingly, cats never made friends with him. They came, purred along for a while and went their own way. But he understood that few good friends are enough. There’s little point in rolling the dice again and again when the odds are next to impossible. The positivity that his friends and family brought to him were enough to survive, but not enough to fight, or so he thought.
They were wings indeed. On second thought, they were not, they were a gross error, but he made them wings anyway. He was convinced about it and that was the beginning of it, or perhaps the end. He tried every single day without fail, worked night shifts in random jobs (like garbage collector) so people won’t notice, lived in a recluse, comfortably forgotten by most. A day he realized that all the beer was weighing him down, that he was too heavy. He shed the bear (tummy). A few days later, he made some progress, lifted, just a little. That, was the end of having chicken wings and having a fine toned body, building up, slowly but steadily.
He did not become a superhero, a night watchman, nor a guardian angel. No, what did you expect? After dishing out such treatment to him, do you think you left him a choice? He lived in anonymity for most of his life. He was never sure of what he wanted, because he was never told what he could be, except an outcaste, an anomaly. He mastered the skill of flying and made new friends in birds. He couldn’t fly too high though, or for too long, his limits were human at best.
But one thing I am sure of, he tried every day. I don’t know if he would agree or not, but I am sorry that he did not find love (in a woman). I just could not find one for him, I have read a lot, words and faces, distances and places, but haven’t seen such a fine eye yet, nor hope to. Perhaps he might have found one for himself, he had those eyes, but he didn’t tell me. I too was judging him by his wings all the time and not by the human that he was. So far.
(Image Sources: Here and here)
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