“Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every open eye is not seeing.”
This story happened in 2007 when I was in Secondary 4, my final year in St. Nicholas Girls’ School. As I had shared in my previous life story post BUTTERFLY AT HEART – MUSIC CHOSE ME (TO BE A MESSENGER), I was a euphonium player in the school’s symphonic band and in my senior year, I was appointed the leader of the euphonium section. It was a tradition that every year during our June holidays, our band would have a camp. Before the camp, we would hold an “interview” or “audition” (I forgot the exact term that we used to call this process back then) for the Sec 3 players. During this “interview/audition”, the Sec 3 players would be tested by playing a short piece selected by their section leaders and would also be asked to answer some questions from the committee and the band conductor herself. This process was necessary for the section leaders, the committee members and the conductor to decide together who would be the next batch of leaders to take over the different roles in the committee. I already went through my round in 2006 which was how I was selected as the euphonium section leader. And now, a year later, it would be my turn to select a test piece for my junior and prepare to hand over my position to the next leader.
It was only a day before the “interview/audition” was about to take place. I was in the band room with a few other section leaders that late afternoon. I needed to select a music piece for my Sec 3 junior to play during her “interview/audition” the next day. But without any warning, I came down with a terrible flu suddenly. I started sneezing non-stop. My head was in a swirl. My limbs started to feel weak. It seemed like I was having a fever. I called my father to ask him to pick me up from school because it didn’t seem like I could make it home all by myself at such a frail state. But he took ages to come. I waited for over an hour before I finally saw his car arrive.
Back at home, I remembered myself lying on the black sofa in the living room the whole evening trying to nurse my flu. My parents definitely didn’t think it was anything serious; probably just a common flu I usually had once in a while. So my mother just gave me some medicine and I went to bed early that night.
Early next morning when the sky was just about to brighten, I woke up to use the toilet. But I felt something strange about my eyes as I walked to the toilet. So I checked myself in the mirror. You know how when we are awake, we don’t really need to exert much force to keep our eyes open right? In that natural state without exerting any force, my left eye was open but my right eye was… closed. And when I tried to force my right eye open, I saw double visions. It startled me because it was the first time this had ever happened to me. However, I tried not to think too much and scare myself. I thought maybe I was too tired and ill so I went back to catch more sleep and thought probably my eyes would get better when I wake up. But no, it didn’t. I woke up again later that morning and my eyes were still the same. Left eye open, right eye shut.
My mother had already gone for work and my siblings out for school. Only my father was at home. I showed him my eyes and he said he would take me to see a doctor at a nearby clinic. But I also told him I still needed to go to school later that day to attend my junior’s band “interview”. So what we originally intended was, after seeing the doctor, my father would drive me to school and he would then rush off to somewhere else for an appointment. I got dressed in my school uniform. I was feeling giddy so I got my father to carry my bag for me. He was in a rush. For some reasons, we took the stairs all the way down from the 7th floor instead of taking the lift. Despite me telling him that I couldn’t see properly and that I was having double visions, he did not care to stop for a moment to help me out and continued rushing down the stairs. I was behind him taking one careful step at a time while holding the handrail (because I was seeing double of each step down the stairs) as I struggled to keep up with his speed.
When we were downstairs at the carpark, he accidentally pulled his shoulder while putting my bag into his car boot. He blamed it on me and scolded me for still letting him carry my bag when I was all grown up already. I was so hurt. Even when I was in such an ill state, he still scolded me for such a minor thing. (Till this day, I still can’t forget how cruel and cold he was as a father to me at that moment and I still hate him because of this.)
We went to a private clinic near our house. The doctor was a little taken aback when he saw me because he had never seen any cases like mine before. He could only tell us that I was having a high fever and needed to be referred to a hospital instead for further checkup and diagnosis. My father, finally sensing that my condition could be something serious, quickly drove me to the National University Hospital (NUH).
After doctor consultation and a series of paperworks, that night, I was admitted to the hospital. Because I was only 15 going 16 in a few months’ time, I was still eligible for their children ward so my parents chose to admit me there because it was more affordable than a normal patient ward. It was kinda awkward for me because all the patients staying in the same ward were mostly small children and I was like the eldest young adult there. The doctors suspected that there might be a tumour in my brain that was pressing against the nerves of my right eyelid, causing it to droop, so they requested to perform some CT scans on me. I remembered my mother crying at the hospital, worrying that I might be suffering from some sort of terminal illness like brain cancer. But after the CT scan was performed, the results showed that there was nothing abnormal in my brain.
But the doctors were clueless. They couldn’t pinpoint the actual cause of my drooping eyelid. At times like this, what doctors always do when the diagnosis is unclear, just like for mental illnesses, is to attribute the cause of my condition to simply, stress. They said I must have been stressed over school, that’s why my eyelid drooped. (Honestly, I had always been a laid-back person when it came to studies and I didn’t think I was stressed at all at that time.) Strange, isn’t it?
Over the next few days, I was given medicine to treat my fever and one that was supposedly to help increase the strength of my nerves, but there wasn’t much improvement. But because my case was special, many trainee doctors in the hospital saw me as a rare “guinea pig” for them to study and learn. They would come to visit and perform their checks on me as if I was a test patient. 😅 Because of my hospitalisation, I missed my junior’s band “interview”. My whole E.T. section and a few close bandmates and classmates came down to visit me over the next couple of days. I was surrounded by love from family and friends. Probably because of this, I was pretty calm and wasn’t actually worried about my strange eye condition at all.
One night, my father came to visit me with a stack of incense papers. He had just gone to consult a chinese medium and she said I might have accidentally run into the energies of someone else’s funeral (白事) or wedding (红事). She asked my father to recite a certain scripture and did some ritual on me. So he did exactly as she instructed him to. I remembered him chanting some words while holding the incense papers and circling them around my body. At the end, he sprayed some water on me using a branch of leaves of some plant before going outside to burn those incense papers by himself.
I didn’t remember anything strange or significant that happened after that. But according to my father, if I ask him about it now, he claimed that after he burned the incense papers, my right eye slowly began to open the next day. Shortly after, I was already able to discharge from hospital and could go home. But the diagnosis and the cause of my drooping eyelid stated in my medical report were still unknown.
Maybe because I was still very young and innocent at that time and knew very little about the spiritual world and any religious stuff, I didn’t actually associate my recovery to the act of my father burning those incense papers and telling the spirits to get away from me. But I remembered my mother became very cautious and told me to avoid going near any wakes of the deceased that are held usually at the void decks of our public housing flats. I was not supposed to look in the direction of other people’s wakes too if we happened to pass by any.
Later that year, whenever I fell sick and was down with fever, my right eyelid would still droop a little but not completely, so my subsequent conditions weren’t as serious as the first. My right eye would usually return back to normal once my fever subsided. So rationally, I came to a conclusion that the nerves of my right eyelid tend to become weaker when my immune system is low.
But now after having been through schizophrenia, if I think about this incident again spiritually, it was probably an early indication that I have a sensitive body and may be easily susceptible to extraneous energies, as I have come to experience the effects in the recent years. It also made me wonder for a moment if my strange “one eye shut” condition in 2007 might have anything to do with Taenggu who debuted with SNSD in that same year too? Hehe. What do you think? 🤔