The other day we were laughing when a friend asked me about why one side of my upper lip was a little distorted. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this question. However, this was the first time I thought about it as a metaphor. I often say everything is a metaphor if you stare long enough. You can describe life by anything which is a part of it, and that’s probably my only favourite part about life. It’s meta, in that sense. Anyway, so I started telling them the story of how the upper lip, the left side specifically, became how it is today.
The earliest one I know of is when my father was driving us home from school. We had an LML scooter, and I used to stand in the front in classic Indian middle-class fashion. Just then, some traffic situation ensued, and the scooter skid. I hit the front of the scooter with my lip. I remember being offered some sugar to ease the pain.
The most explicit memory is of when I was a child, getting ready for school on a random morning. We had two washrooms, and because of the other tenants hoarding up the washroom time, both were occupied. That was when I decided to climb upstairs and go to the washrooms on the first floor. I went to it, did my thing, and I started climbing down in a hurry. I slipped, and somehow, toppled headfirst on the last step. Before I knew it, I could feel my mouth filling up with blood. The upper lip had burst, and I didn’t go to the school that day.
The second was when my cousin’s lane had their evening cricket game, like usual. I wasn’t playing. I was just standing near the corner, watching. I hate cricket. I’ve always hated cricket. It’s a stupid game, in my opinion. I’m sure after reading the last sentence my fellow countrymen have disowned me, and I’m being shipped to some remote island as we type but whatever, it’s worth it. Anyway, so, the people playing cricket were taking a run, as usual, and the batsman wasn’t looking in front. As he ran, his bat swung freely in the air. The height was naturally, as you might’ve expected by now, exactly there to smack me right in the face. It did. The lip burst, again.
I was running down the same lane some years later. We were rushing to someplace. We roamed around and ran around a lot, my cousins and me. Anyway, so, there were a lot of pebbles, and I fell because I’ve been bad at most things sport for most of my life. It is only now that I’ve managed to stand without falling, to be honest. As a result, I’ve always been overly conscious of my position, spatially speaking. So, when I fell, I fell headfirst. That’s where falling headfirst for everything probably began in my life, but that’s for another story. My face hit the pebbles. I cried. There was number four.
The last one I remember was in seventh grade. I was being bullied. Someone said something about my brother. I couldn’t stand it. So, a brawl began. It was precisely not how it looks in the movies. It was a guy towering my then puny self. Then, he lunged forward with a jab. I dodged one. I felt cool. I’m not sure if that’s how it was playing for everyone else though, but I always remember that as the most cinematic dodge in the history of dodges. Then, I dodged another. On the third one, I ran out of space to backstep, and the punch landed on my face. This kid wore a ring with one of those coloured stones, and that knocked a tooth off, and gave me a scar, and, obviously, burst my upper lip.
Fortunately, nothing happened after, but my upper lip stayed that way. The scar albeit small, thankfully, is always hidden behind the beard. Anyway, the upper lip became a common question people asked me when they met me or on first dates especially the good ones when I’m laughing a lot.
The lesson in all this history is simple, though.
Shit that happens to you once can absolutely and without a doubt happen again. It can keep happening to you no matter how unlikely it may seem. That’s life. You learn to deal with it. Life isn’t a one and done event. It’s shit happening to you. It’s the same shit happening to you for the rest of it, coming up every now and then. Sometimes, that recurring shit leaves a mark. But, at the end of the day, when you’re around people and having a laugh, you’ll always have a good story to tell.