Lately I've been seeing a Korean Chiropractic Doctor for my back. All is well except for the fact that he and I speak two different kinds of English. Added to that is also a lisp which confounds my understanding even more. I speak a curry accent (no lisp), which is really a combination of Indian, American, and British accents. At any given time, instead of having one single conversation, we end up having two perfect conversations - he talking to himself and I talking to myself. He tells me to go to room three, I head off towards finding a room which is free and hoping to find a room which says 'free room, no payment necessary'. He catches me wandering around peeking in all rooms and guides me to Room #3. When the Chiropractor asks me questions or tells me to do something, I am either not listening or feigning understanding because my reactions are completely unrelated to the demands. He tells me to lie down on my stomach, and I slowly move to lie down on my back. I lie there peacefully with a little Buddha smile on my face till he shocks me with the question whether I would like the needles in my stomach instead of my back. I am horrified, start wailing long nooooooooooooos and slowly reverse my position. Somehow in that supine condition, my brain refuses to cooperate with any instructions or maybe I'm just naturally averse to instructions.
I lie on my stomach on a comfortable bench with my nose and face stuck in its groove, which is covered with paper that rustles with every breath I take. Somehow I cannot find a good place for my nose in that groove. I turn my face sideways to rest on one cheek and soon that ear is red and hot. Then I try the other cheek. After this I give up, because I have no more cheeks left to turn. The Chiropractor scolds me 'tham thown' (calm down) and vigorously rubs my back with alcohol and plants some needles in there. A few pricks of that nature could never make me scream. Then I feel a red warmth as well and maybe just for a moment I think I've achieved nirvana at last.
The Chiropractor asks me if I know what he is doing. I say oh yes I am lying on my stomach. Thankfully he ignores me and says it's 'heath thethapy' (heat therapy) along with acupuncture needles. I ask how many needles and he says 10, and I say please put some more because I want to impress my macho husband who's scared stiff of needles. I'm surprised because the Chiropractor says you 'aath tho fhuneee' (you are so funny). Then when he tells me it's time for electric stimulation, I hand him a paper and pen to to write down the name of the procedure. Maybe the Chiropractor should demonstrate everything he wants me to do. This way, the last barriers of language can be safely done away with. Show me and I will never forget. Soon I hear the doctor say are you okay for the hundredth time and I'll be back. But actually he's gone to poke other patients with those needles.
Lying on the bench, with my face buried in paper - is usually a good time for me to recall my entire life and why and how I arrived here. I ask myself the same questions - why did I get married, why diid I have kids, why did I grow up, why didn't I just run away or why couldn't I find a Chiropractor who spoke like me. Every time I lie on the comfy bench, I convince myself that this will be the-arriving-at-answers-day. But it never happens. Maybe I should choose a different bench or different questions that have answers. Anyway my thoughts keep getting interrupted by the flap flap of sandals around me. The doctor insists on flapping and dragging his feet all over the office. I dare not object. After all a man armed with needles is a man to be feared. We usually complete the visit - with the Chiropractor and I having hearty conversations about politics. We discuss the ills of communism, and how some people still find it savory, the despicable Kim Jong Il (the dear leader of North Korea), the even more terrible Sr. Kim Sung (the dear departed leader), and the current Jong's sons (to-be dear leaders), who will some day inherit the country. The Chiropractor warns me that Kim Jong Il, his dad, his son - all too too too bad people. He then sends me off reminding me with 'no bend'. I hobble out imagining a life in the vertical position, stiff, unbendable, unable to sway with the wind or even retrieve my fallen car keys. Sometimes I think not being able to bend down and pick up stuff may be a good thing. It's best to leave some some things just lying around or better to kick them gently in a place where they can't be found at all.