The Pecking Order

Entry by: Freya

3rd June 2016
The pecking order

I’m dying. The only uncertainty is the day and the hour. Third stage stomach cancer with a metastasis to the liver. No hope. No treatment. Just the queen morphine lulling me to eternal sleep, every day I’m more her slave than the last. But that’s perhaps the only time in life when addiction is not stigmatised. It’s even promoted. Pain – the ultimate villain – deserves to be annihilated with any measure there is at human disposal.

I’ve always been first in anything I attempted. And it happened with minimum effort on my part. My parents handed me a brain and my single task as a kid was to use it. Learning has always been fun. In primary school, I was picked as one of the ten brightest kids in my borough and invited to join a special class for little geniuses. To qualify, my parents took me to a psychologist for IQ testing and I scored 188. It meant little to me at the time. Just a number my parents whispered to each other with wide-eyed reverence. They are both bright, educated people but there had never been a genius in our family before so they instantly felt special themselves. To be honest, they didn’t even try to teach me about the world. I absorbed the reality around me like an extra super dry sponge. They simply facilitated my absorption by feeding and hugging me. Unlike other parents, these two never channelled their unfulfilled dreams through me. I love them for letting me develop without much interference.

I graduated from high school with a medal for exceptional performance. I entered university aged seventeen and did a double major in medicine and psychology. My subsequent doctorate was on gut bacteria and mood. Some foresight! I chuckle when I ponder it. No bacteria inhabit my gut now, merely the chemo residues. This scarcity of friendly microorganisms is a good excuse for my low mood but I’m yet to meet a terminally ill junkie whose mood beats mine, so who knows if it’s the bacteria? Perhaps it simply feels crappy to be dying? Anyway, I graduated with a PhD summa cum laude, just so that you know.

After all this bragging about intellectual splendours you likely reassure yourself by supposing that I had no social life growing up. A picture of a pimpled, bookish-kind of boy leaps to your mind? I’ll disappoint you. I’ve always been popular with girls. I was a captain of a football team in my time. My blonde locks and a larger than life personality (not even mentioning my handsome face unblemished by the acne – yes, this plague of adolescence spared me) also helped.

I haven’t missed on anything that matters. I’ve been in love more than once, had my heart broken a couple of times but ended up marrying the love of my life. She’s still by my side, if you wondered, my backbone as much while I tried to beat the cancer as when I resigned myself to dying. Our twins are six years old next week. The family and friends are coming to celebrate. If I survive till then, I’ll join the fete. If not, they’ll come anyway to cheer my sweetheart and the boys. Yes, if that wasn’t enough, this lucky bastard also has friends he can rely on.

And what about the money? I’m more about ‘to be’ than ‘to have’ but I can’t say I’ve been deprived of anything I wanted in life. I work as a university professor and I’m paid enough to live comfortably. My wife is also financially independent. We’re good.

Won’t you die finally, you cocky bastard? I’m sure you’re asking in your mind of minds.

It’s been my observation that people don’t cope well with the success of others.

Now just die and let those less fortunate than you jump on your grave, satisfied they at least outlived you, since they were no match for you in any other way.

But I’ll outsmart you all. I’ve been first in living and I’ll be the first to perish. The pecking order can’t be broken. There is this fairness in life. Though I’m just thirty-five. Live fast, die young, they say.

Only in this competition I wish I was a loser. Not for my wife’s and children’s sake, not even for my dearest parents’ who are heartbroken witnessing their only child passing in his prime, but for my own selfish sake. I want to live! I don’t deserve to die. I've never drunk or smoked, never even sniffed ganja. I’ve helped people, saved lives, done charity work… I loved.

Can you find sympathy in your heart of hearts for a tall poppy whom life’s treated kindly till now? Or do you think I deserve to die aged thirty-five after the years of having it all served on a silver platter? Must there be a price one pays for not having it hard? Tell me when you know the answer. Only better hurry. I may not be here next week.