I was sitting in the university classroom, pondering over what I should come up with for my Communications assignment. Lots of things happened quite recently, and so my dear mind was in a mesh. Rather unknowingly, I found myself bringing up a topic I had long forgotten, one that I had written countless number of times as I applied to pre-med university. There I was standing in front of the class shamelessly tearing away at the very flesh of my own mind for words for the soul. I was glad I could find my voice again.
Spirit of Sparta by Alicia Ai Leng is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The sound of gunshot crackled through the crisp cold morning air. The bullet penetrated through the misty dewy darkness of twilight, escaping into the cast emptiness, beyond auditory threshold. It signaled the fresh start of a long 21-kilometer run. Tens of thousands wobbled at their feet, their toes still slightly cramped from the morning cold.
The senses orchestrated themselves to lots of things happening around. The ears captured all that was there to hear: the endless chatter of the overly-excited crowd, the rapid pattering of thousands of feet, the resounding siren of the police, and yes, the gunshot. The eyes looked ahead… and about. They saw people in orange vests in front, beside, and behind. All running on their feet, their faces twitched by the lack of oxygen. The sweet, small mouth – it gasped for air. The lung expanded and contracted at normal pace in intervals. The Chambers of Life pumped slightly faster than usual. Little drops of sweat trickled down the tiny pores of the skin, dripping onto the ground.
There she was, a young woman not over 20, running on her two feet, not too fast, not too slow, a speckled dot among the entire lot. It was *Sabrina’s first half-marathon in her life, and she was determined to make it. Not that it was impossible; she had exerted a bit more than an hour on the training grounds running ten kilometers. She mentally repeated to herself that she just had to go slow and take it easy.
It was only 4AM. In the blank state of her mind, Sabrina felt extremely refreshed. Nothing crossed her thoughts. She was so relaxed. There was no sign of pain as she swayed left and right (that was the way to run, right?) and her heels hit the ground. It seemed so utterly effortless.
But no one knew. No one knew what Sabrina had gone through, that only seven years back, her very life had hung on a thread. That thread was about to snap if it were not for her seven lifesavers, all crowded around her in the surgery room with their green overalls on.
It had come from the back. This big vehicle, a lorry probably, was speeding down the empty road with hellish swiftness. A young, fat Chinese man was behind the steering wheel. He had a companion at the back, open-air end; was he Malay, Chinese, or Indian no one could remember.
The companion was sitting at the back, but he was not sitting still. He was frantic – but, good Lord, why? The two appeared to be rushing from someone, something. In all the hullabaloo, the driver did not even notice the young girl walking in front of him.
In a matter of seconds, everything happened. The girl was knocked down. Her right shoe slipped out of her foot and flew off, landing distances away. The impact forced the young woman out of her gait too, and she landed on the ground with a thud approximately a hundred meters away.
Nonetheless the lorry did not halt its brakes. It just went on as if nothing had happened. It would have sped off if not for the traffic lights – and her younger brother as well.
The small thin boy ran as fast as his skinny legs could carry. He wanted to stop the driver, and he did. Stupefied by the horror that had occurred right before her very eyes, the boy’s mother stood watching. The little boy made the driver’s companion hoist his motionless sister into the vehicle. He vehemently directed the driver to the nearest hospital.
That night was a night of desperation. As the heart monitor gave out its timely beep, doctors worked on the body, half hoping, half dreading; Sabrina’s mother sobbed uncontrollably in devastation, and her brother did his best to look calm, although signs of overwhelming distraught showed in his eyes. Friends and neighbors came to console the mother, but it seemed hopeless. At last the main surgeon walked out of the OT. “She has only 25% chance of survival.” That was the last thing anyone wanted to hear.
Her spleen was removed – at least a huge portion of it – and her lung too, for it was completely lacerated. Her blood capacity was below 50%, and her ankle and rib cage were fractured. Sabrina was now very pale and thin. Her eyes were shut close as her spirit breathed on and on, considering whether it should hold itself together or simply give up.
In the dire circumstances, her spirit fought through a tough combat between Life and Death, between the real and the Void. It battled to keep the girl alive, her dear heart beating and her lung breathing. Her warring soul never stopped for weeks on end,
Yet just when everyone was almost losing hope on Sabrina, her beautiful brown eyes flickered open. There were a few more battles, battles that were no as tough as the one before, but were still battles. First she lost her voice – and then it came back. Then she had to learn to stand up; she fell hard onto the ground so many, many times the searing pain shot through her feeble spine and left her semi-paralyzed for minutes. On several occasions she fell headlong on her crutches as she hobbled through the corridors of the hospital.
Nonetheless, she conquered each and every fight. She grabbed firm hold of the crutches – and no, she did not hobble along anymore. Rather, she walked the crutches swiftly, as if she were carrying the crutches with her wherever she went.
Finally, she let it all go. She left her crutches behind and started taking small steps. Before she had even mastered the step, she went ahead and started running – or jogging, more like. It was very hard at first, but Sabrina always believed in allowing herself time to grow. She did not condone in pushing herself far too much. And run she finally did.
Today, Sabrina runs, although not competitively. She has completed 21 kilometers in three hours – her first half-marathon – and she swims 10 laps in her condominium pool regularly. She is now a few months short to her bachelor’s degree, and is working on her first start-up, Braniac Media. She aims to do her Masters too, with a focus on clinical psychology, and finally develop another startup concentrating on personality development.
Life is about firing one’s passions up to the maximum. It is about winning battles all the way till the end of the tunnel. It is about harboring a Spartan spirit, where the strength of the soul overcomes every war it faces with honor, dignity, and perseverance.
*not her real name