Last night I couldn't sleep, because of my heart. It wasn't just beating — it was pounding. I thought it would fall out through the orifice that my mouth was. I tossed and turned. I was reminded of the last time this happened.
I was in the fifth standard.
Seated in my mother's rickety work-from-home rolling chair, I read through the newest Famous Five book she'd gifted me. A pencil in hand, I underlined hard words. I repeated it loud and let the new word roll in my mouth 'arrr-dooo-ouss.' Arduous. I then opened the dictionary, ran my fingers across the words and learnt its meaning.
Plop. Something landed softly on my left shoulder. Jolted back to reality, I examined this item.
It was a lizard. Not the whole lizard, only its brown spotted tail. Cut in half slipping off my clothed shoulder.
My heart stopped beating for a split second.
It then resumed beating, but it beat so fast I thought I'd puke, and my heart would pour out along with my guts. It was my flight or fright response. Clearly, I was in fright. How I wish I had fled then.
Instead, I went back to Famous Five and re-read a paragraph aloud. It kept me sane. The words brought calm through the internal storm for the ten year old me.
I know what happened last night, and I don't know what caused it. But since I'd devised ways to manage it, I tried to work with it.
I quickly grabbed a book about erstwhile Bombay I'd been reading. I read it well into the day until my eyes tired out and pleaded for sleep. My heart was too weary to keep pounding. When it resumed its normal rhythm of beating, I heaved a sigh and closed my eyes.
Comforted by the movement of language swimming through my mind, saved by the sound of the words cutting, grinding and slicing through the chest pounding, I found a way to save myself.
I slept for six hours straight.