This is a story inspired by the revelation of a character from one of my favorite TV shows. In a way, it is a story that tells of a situation similar to that of Dr. Julian Bashir, Chief Medical Officer from the show Star Trek, Deep Space Nine.
My parents entered the room. They had just answered questions about the media’s new infatuation – me. After countless interviews, my parents stood beaming and proud. My father was an architect. My mother, a doctor. They felt so proud narrating stories of their “little” daughter. Not so little, I was twenty-five.
My mother came forward and hugged me. I couldn’t return the gesture. I was disgusted with my parents. My rage was boiling in the deep, dark pit of my stomach. Everybody has their secrets. As do I. Now, I was a beautiful, brilliant genius with a sparkling life ahead of me, supported on a strong foundation of many awards, scholarships and hard-work.
When I was six, I was the exact opposite. I was a slow, clumsy child who was awkward about everything. I had difficulty in grasping the simplest of concepts which seemed to come to all my peers with natural ease. I found it difficult to talk and I had problems differentiating between simple, everyday objects like trees and houses, while all my classmates learnt how to use a computer and solve differential equations. I never could really understand what was going on around me. I never understood what happened and why it happened. It was made very clear to me by all who were around me that I was inferior. I began to realize that I had been a constant disappointment to my parents since the time I came into my existence. Turns out I had a developmental abnormality. I was shorter than most other children my age and I appeared to be less-able than them in other ways as well.
Before my seventh birthday, I paid a visit to the Galactic Medical Federation with my parents. The best doctors all over the galaxy worked there. Yet, it wasn’t completely impervious to corruption. And then those treatments began. It started with my mental growth and ended with my appearance and that caused my change. I was genetically enhanced and engineered. My IQ jumped five points a day over two weeks. My communication and understanding of the world around me became better. My ability to grasp and absorb had increased far beyond than I what I could. Everything about me changed from awkward to normal to outstanding.
But I was genetically engineered. I was not natural. You can call me a mutant, a freak. And genetic engineering is highly illegal. Eugenics was against everybody’s basic code of ethics and morality. Yet that never stopped my parents. And the treatments unfortunately never did wipe away the memory of my previous six years, living as the exact opposite of what I was now.
My father, the architect. He falsified records and identities. He corrected and improved upon the design of his daughter. He engineered a daughter to replace the malfunctioning one he had been given. He says that if it wasn’t for him, I would have spent the rest of my life under remedial education.
I suppose you think I should thank them for changing me from an ugly duckling to a swan. Correction, a genetically-engineered swan. A fraud, an illegal masterpiece.
But in transforming me, they removed what was fundamentally me. I’m an illegal freak of nature now and it’s all my parents’ fault. They never gave me a chance. After all, six is too early to predict the future of a growing child. And behind the brilliant genius and gorgeous looks is an illegal medical therapy.
My mother is crying into my arms now as she sees the steely, cold look in my eyes. She crying into my arms now, where I’m clutching my laurels and awards and certificates. She’s trying to explain her deed to me.
She tells me she kept blaming herself for it. That she spent many sleepless nights wondering what went wrong during the pregnancy and that why did it have to be me. She couldn’t bear to watch me suffer as I fell behind a little by little every day, as I became the slowest learner. Later, after my therapy, we moved to another city and transformed from the class dunce to star genius. My parents tried to hide everything from me. “We’re so proud of her, “was their constant annoying refrain.
But unfortunately, the treatment did not wipe out whatever dull blurry memories I have. I will always remember. Even though they loved me and wanted the best for me, I was unable return the gesture to them anymore, even though I had transformed from something “ugly” to something “beautiful”. The main point is that they failed to appreciate me then and now they wanted to. Why not just accept me for what I was? Why was I not always perfect for them? Was I not their baby? Did I not have the right to be accepted as and what I was? Did I have to satisfy certain criteria to be “worthy” of being their daughter?
Now, I was the galaxy’s most promising young scientist and not to mention my gorgeous looks as well which would get me a great life ahead. But I can’t find it in myself to be arrogant or happy about it. Now that I’m the center of the media’s attraction, my secret’s bound to come out.
My father tells me that he’s willing to serve five years in a low-security penal colony. He’s willing to shoulder the blame for the fraud of genetic engineering. At best he can get a ten-year sentence because he performed the therapy without my consent and only as the power of my benefactor.
I’m touched by his gesture. Even though I despise them, they’re still my parents and I love them for some inexplicable reason. I loved them then and I promised myself that I would try and accept myself, forgive myself for being a disappointment to my parents. And after the treatment, I had to somehow continue to love them. It was the last shred of my originality. The only thing that I tried so hard not to change after all these years. But its difficult. But it’s the only bit of that six-year-old me that will stay with me now and forever.