I grew up in the country, surrounded by animals, dust and all sorts of bacteria and viruses that seemed to be extremely curious about the thin layer covering children’s eyeballs. So my cousins and I got pinkeye at least once a year. Our parents maintained a stash of antibiotics—hospitals are not that accessible when you live in the blessed boondocks. But the synthetic ointment was always used as a last resort. Whenever conjunctivitis attacked the prepubescent bit of the tribe, the first line of defense was breast milk.
Yes, breast milk; when you grow up using things like dried goat’s feces to treat certain wounds, you don’t frown at a bit of breast milk in your eye… unless the breast providing said milk belonged to Tia Chiguete. Auntie Squirt wasn’t really anyone’s auntie, by the way, but in those days anyone older than you was an aunt or uncle.
Anyhoo, most ladies were happy to deposit some milk in a cup. Then a parent would find an eye dropper and we would get treated. But Tia Chiguete demanded to squirt every afflicted in the eye. Maybe she was testing her aim or something. Who knows! The woman had enormous tatas that I’m sure gave every kid—not just me—nightmares about drowning; or at least, about being the helpless victims of waterboarding.
Today, I’m 37-years-old and very far away from my home village. I’m pretty sure that if I went around my building asking who was breastfeeding someone would probably call the police. So it was to the hospital for me and my conjunctivitis. I already had 3 appointments scheduled for today. And my doctor’s super nurse found a way to squeeze the eye clinic in between.
I saw the eye doctor after my second scheduled appointment. I was very happy to see that he was rather flat-chested, so he couldn’t possibly be breastfeeding. He examined my eyeballs, made small talk about how much it sucked to wake up with one’s eyes stuck together, and prescribed some eye drops and cold compresses.
“Don’t worry too much about it,” he said. “It will be gone in one to two weeks.”
“Two weeks?” I stared at him. My eyes hurt too much for me to hear the one bit. And maybe time moved faster when I was a kid, but I don’t remember ever having pinkeye for two weeks.
“It will get much better before that long. Just give it some time.”
“Okay,” I said, looking at his chest expectantly. But no, the man had nothing under his shirt.
I walked to my next appointment wondering if Tia Chiguete was somewhere, laughing at me, saying, “I bet you wouldn’t mind a squirting right now, Fireball!”
Ah, the good old days…
Runner, by CraftBench