Chapter 38 – Suffering Incomparable
While walking up and down the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh, during the three weeks I spent there back in February of 2013, I came face-to-face with some of the most disturbingly deformed human beings I’ve ever seen. I’m talking more disturbing than I ever could’ve imagined. Sure, there were barely clothed nuggets of men with nubby arms and nubby legs laying on the sidewalk with coin-filled baskets balanced on their stomachs, begging and hoping to group-fund the next meal that will sustain their miserable existence which will either have to be fed to them or eaten off the ground, but even a misfortune such as this is not the extent of deformity I’m talking about.
I saw this one guy whose skin that’d once covered his facial features looked as if it’d been stretched out, filled with a fluid and then left to dangle off the side of his cranium like a bowling-ball-sized scrotum sac. And what was left where his face should’ve been was a layer of skin pulled down over indentations of eye sockets, a nasal passageway and a mouth hole. I had no idea how that person could possibly eat, let alone breathe. Did someone help him pull that excess epidermis back to get the hole in his skin aligned with the hole in his skull so some fuckin’ food could be thrown in there to prolong the pain and keep that thing alive? I don’t know. I didn’t stick around to find out. I didn’t wanna gawk. I was horrified.
There was another guy near my hostel that I came to pass several times who’d just sit there in a puddle of mud, wailing for help from “ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAH!” all day every day. His arms were fused to the front of his rib cage from the shoulder to the elbow, leaving his chicken wing forearms sticking straight out in front of his torso. His hands were useless, jutting and misshaped balls of bones which looked like the bound feet of an ancient Chinese woman that’d additionally been bludgeoned with a hammer. It’s a shame Allah didn’t hear the man’s cries and put him out of his misery.
Each time I passed these wretched beasts, I threw a couple bucks their way but, honestly, what the fuck’s that gonna do for ‘em? Is my piddling change gonna buy that one guy a new set of arms and legs or is he still gonna be laying there on the sidewalk the next day, rain or shine, with that basket of change on his chest? Are those couple pieces of paper I set down in front of the man who couldn’t even see me do so going to unmelt his fucking face? And that third guy – there’s nothing I could do for that poor bastard to get him to stop crying for Allah short of cutting his vocal cords or pumping a dosage of hot lead into his cerebrum. I found the desperation of these people and my inability to provide sufficient help to be nothing short of traumatizing. Exposure like this to the raw side of the human experience has had a more profound effect on me than I’ve ever been comfortable admitting to anyone since returning home. It’s changed my view on everything.