Heroes are found in the unlikeliest of places. Heroes aren’t always seen in capes or fly around rescuing people from dangerous situations. A hero can be hidden and unaware, even to themselves. My hero is my one close and true friend, Kori.
Kori and I went to grad school together in the US, lived in different countries and now live 10 miles apart in our suburban hometown in Salem. She has been there for me during my ups and downs, especially downs. With my chronic depression and anxiety, I’ve troubled her more than I’m willing to admit and yet, she’s never once expressed any kind of boredom or frustration with me, as most people feel (and rightly so) around depressed individuals.
Today, I’m not going to talk about me. I am going to share a day of her life instead.
Kori woke up at 8 am for the third time that morning but she knew this time she had to get up and get going on her chores. Her husband was most likely up, but the kids would probably still be sleeping. It was time to get started on breakfast.
It was 1 am when Kori woke up for the first time. She had gone to bed around 11. She usually fell asleep quickly and stayed asleep till morning, but the damn peacock screaming must have disturbed her. She did not know that the noise she heard were peacock screams. Kori had been dreaming that she was being chased by a group of teenagers, none of them with masks on, who eventually corner her and start breathing into her mouth, face and nose and everywhere as she stares, confused and terrified. At this point, they start tickling her (which is her worst nightmare) and suddenly she starts to turn into a creature, sort of a darkseeker. She starts screaming, with no help in sight and that’s when Mr. Horny Peacock must have woken her up from the woods across her house.
She has almost the same nightmare every time, with minor variations. Sometimes it’s teenagers, other times it’s a group of gossipy women from her building who think she is a snob, sometimes it’s the entire family she grew up with, all holding hands and trapping her in a circle, punishing her for escaping the clan and sometimes, though rarely, her husband makes an appearance. But the last part is most likely her way of reconnecting with him, at least in the dream.
You see, ever since the lockdown, kids have claimed Kori’s bed as their territory. They are having nightmares too and at least one of them go running into her bedroom. The humidity, lockdown, and lack of the previously predictable routine of schools, classes and playdates have turned her kids into an annoying version of Stewie, if such a thing is even possible. To top it all, her kids' friends have been circulating the ‘Mommy Mommy’ clip from Family Guy and think it is fun to torment their mothers with it. Kori was planning to yell at them and their parents, but turns out her kids were the ones that started it and now she is banned from the mommy group (they were already thinking of kicking her out and they conveniently made use of the opportunity).
It was that time when one of the moms had shared her short story and instead of saying ‘Excellent!’ or ‘Wow, Amy, you’re awesome’ or ‘Great work’ like other moms, Kori had posted ‘Writing is like birds. Some of them soar high. Others just shit on your heads’. She did not realize she had offended so many people. She thought she was being helpful, imparting wisdom. Kori thought Amy should be thanking her for making Amy stronger. What she got instead were calls. Angry calls, hurt calls, disappointed calls, warning calls, lecturing calls, and gallons of snide glances the next day during drop-off.
Anyway, it was 1 am and she gulped down what seemed like a gallon of water when Mr. Horny was at it again. Kori was curious. She tried to catch a glimpse from her balcony but all she could see was darkness and dread. With the scorching summer heat, excessive housework and the normally workaholic hubby’s now overloaded schedule, she sure was not getting any, but she wasn’t interested in peacock sex or anything like that. She once saw two roaches getting it on. True, she stared at them longer than it could be deemed decent, but in her defence, it was only because she didn’t know they were going at it. Kori believed she had spotted a new bug in her house - a mutated, deceptively symmetrical orangish roach-like bug with crazy hair (which, incidentally, is how a friend in California describes Trump).
She went back to bed, googled about peacocks but she must have fallen asleep with the phone in her hand and by the time she realized it, her hands, funnily, also had fallen asleep and she lay awake shaking her arms, urging them to join her. She said she was reminded of something she saw as a kid on TV, where a person’s hand starts acting like its own person, slapping his wife, randomly saluting, essentialy making the man go crazy. She wondered who her hand-person will choose to slap first if she were to be afflicted with the syndrome. The moment anyone gets Alien Hand Syndrome (which is what it is called, apparently) their spouse will be the first person to get slapped. Single people, will slap their mother or father, depending on who screwed them up the most. If someone has no spouse and no parents, Kori said, they would be so stress-free, she didn’t think they would even get sick.
She must have fallen asleep while searching and clicking on links because when she woke up and unlocked her phone, a video automatically resumed. A court judge, in the video, claimed that peacocks do not have sex. He believed that peahens drink the peacocks’ tears and magically get impregnated. It was old news, but Kori did wonder whose hands her nation has been in.
She recollected experiences of her grandmother when she was a teenager. Kori’s grandmother had recounted that as a teenager she had refrained from going out, to avoid contact, because she believed something as minor as a slight touch or an inadvertent brush (like a bus driver handing out tickets or exchanging goods with a grocer) would make her pregnant because she believed the stories she had heard as a child. Kori certainly would not fault her grandmother for that. Then again, she had not graduated school and was in no way responsible in her life to provide verdicts in important cases, unlike the wise judge.
That is when Kori called me and when I did not pick up, she texted me ‘COCK SEX! COCK SEX! CALL ME!’ and went back to bed for the final time, hoping for more adventures.
I was home and wide awake when I got the text. That text saved my life.