Questions


I awoke with a start, and in unfamiliar surroundings.

The bed was comfortable, but a bit too small. I could feel the yellow wooden footboard with my feet while my head was still touching the headboard. As I looked around, I found myself in a plain, but bright and cheery bedroom that had clearly been decorated for a juvenile. Because my head wouldn’t reconcile itself to consciousness as soon as I wanted it to, I had to turn over in bed a few times before I could throw off the comforter and sit up. The comforter was printed with a colorful pattern of cartoon characters, none of which I recognized. When I sat up, it made me a little dizzy; I theorized that it was from hunger. I bent over and held my head in my hands as my head suddenly throbbed in pain. Looking down, I discovered that I was wearing socks.

I sat there for a moment, cradling my head in my hands. Where am I? I wondered. This looks like a bedroom for a little boy. I rubbed my temples and tried to remember the previous evening, but my efforts were in vain and my mind remained a blank. When I looked up, I saw a small student’s desk on the opposite wall; it’s made from the same yellow wood as the bed frame. (I’m sitting at the desk as I write this.) On the wall to my left is a tall piece of furniture that I suspect is a wardrobe, but I don’t plan to look inside to confirm that idea. There is only one small square window in this room—if you’re lying on the bed, you can see the window over your feet. The window has colorful cartoon-like drapes that match the comforter on the bed. The drapes are billowing inward with a gentle, aromatic breeze.

I want to reassure you that as I write this, I’ve had some breakfast, and my headache is nearly gone. My purpose in writing all this down is the hope that it will ease my disorientation and bring back my memory, but so far it doesn’t seem to be working. But when I first woke up, believe me, I was in real misery.

So as soon as my headache permitted, I walked around the room and looked out the window. It had no screen, so I could poke my head out to take in the beautiful view! I saw a heavily-planted courtyard shared by this building and three other modernistic buildings, which must be more or less identical to this one. I gathered from the view that I must be in an apartment building and not a detached house. The buildings are on a hillside, and the building I’m in is the furthest uphill. I’ve deduced that I am on the second floor of this building, yet I can see over the roofs of the buildings across the courtyard to a valley and a distant range of mountains. I think I can even see a city on the other side of the valley! Wherever I am, it’s a mountainous place.

As I pulled my head back in the window, I was startled by a knock at the door! I was still in my underwear and in no condition to receive visitors. “What is it?” I asked nervously, as I furtively sought my clothes. They were folded on a chair next to the wardrobe so I made a dash for them.

“Are you up yet?” came a cheerful female voice. I urgently pulled on the pants.

“I’m not dressed yet,” I explained, “but I’m up!”

“Can I bring you some breakfast in… say four minutes?” she asked.

Four minutes? How oddly precise! “Yes, of course!” I answered, “That would be very nice. I’m starved!” My stomach rejoiced! Maybe the food would help clear up this headache, I theorized optimistically. I heard retreating footsteps as I finished dressing. I looked around the room, thinking that something might jog my memory, but nothing did.

After a short time, there was a bump at the door.

“Could you open the door?” came the voice, “I’ve got both hands full!” I leapt to the door and ripped it open. My benefactor stood there smiling, holding a breakfast tray with both hands. It was piled high with unfamiliar but obviously delicious food. She was about my height, with straight brown hair down to her shoulder blades. Not bad looking, except one of her eyelids looks permanently sleepy. She didn’t look at all familiar.

She walked in the room and set the tray down on the desk. “If I had known you would be up and about, I would have set a place for you at the kitchen table,” she apologized, “but since I’d already set up this tray, you might as well eat here!”

I thanked her for the food and dived right in. She perched herself on the chair where my clothes had been, and chatted cheerfully while I ate. I was so hungry that I was half-finished before I realized that I didn’t recognize a thing that I was eating, except of course for the muffin! Nevertheless, it was delicious, and I made sure she knew how delicious it was and how grateful I was.

“Let me introduce myself, since I am sure you won’t remember me yet!” she began, “My name is Melissa Lahtissimon. You’ve been staying in Darryl’s room, that’s my adopted son. He’s ten years old,” she added. “Darryl has been very excitedly waiting for you to recover from your… um… let’s call it ‘jet-lag’ for now. He wants to hear all the news!”

“Excuse me,” I interrupted, “but if this is Darryl’s room, where has Darryl been sleeping?”

“On the living room sofa,” she smiled, “but he doesn’t mind. He’s very excited about meeting you!”

I swallowed what was in my mouth and took a sip of… well, whatever was in that mug. “This is good,” I observed, peering into the mug, “What is it?”

“It’s called ‘harng’,” she explained. “Incidentally, do you have a headache?” My mouth was full, so I just nodded at her emphatically. “The veterinarian said you should take those three white tablets if you do.” She pointed to three little pills on my tray, next to where the spoon had been. The word ‘veterinarian’ was a bit disconcerting, but my head hurt so bad that I just scooped up the tablets and washed them down with my beverage.

Melissa looked at her watch and rose from her seat, “It’s nearly twelve o’clock in the morning!” she announced, “I’d better tidy up so I can go to work! You’re supposed to just rest today; in fact, I don’t think you will want to do much else. There’s a television in the living room, we have a whole lot of books, including a few in English, and you can help yourself to anything in the fridge! Is there anything you want before I go?” Since I had finished eating, she rose from her chair and took the tray. “Oh, I’m sorry!” she apologized, as if she wanted to correct an omission, “Let’s see: Darryl should be home in the middle of the afternoon around twenty; I’ll be home at twenty-two thirty-two at the very latest if I can’t get off early (which I will try very hard to do), and my husband Harshan will be home at about twenty-three o’clock.” Then she just stood there and smiled broadly, as if I were some sort of honored guest or long-lost relative. “Then we’ll have the whole evening to get to know each other. Is that what you needed to know?”

Quite honestly, my head was swimming with questions! They have a ‘few’ books in English? What language would the others be in? How am I supposed to make sense out of things like ‘twelve o’clock in the morning’? If her husband doesn’t get home until twenty-three o’clock, just how much of the evening does she expect to have left after that? Why had they taken me to a veterinarian, for goodness sake? Just where the heck am I? But I had the presence of mind to ask the most important question first:

“Who am I?” I blurted out abruptly.

“Why, you’re Ken!” Melissa said triumphantly. “Don’t worry, the veterinarian says that the amnesia won’t even last a full day. In fact, they warned you about this before you left, but you insisted that you wanted to come anyway.” She giggled,“ I don’t suppose you can remember that either!” Then she gave me a big hug. “Just relax! You’re among friends! It will all come back by the end of the day!”

And then she left for work, leaving me alone in this apartment.

I explored the apartment briefly, finding nothing particularly remarkable or unfamiliar. I decided to relax in the living room. I tried to read the newspaper, but I couldn’t even recognize what alphabet it was, not to mention the language. (That’s a rattling experience for a linguist like me.) It took me a while to figure out how to do it, but when I finally got the television on, most of the people on television seemed to be black Swedes with Jamaican accents! I also found out the hard way that the water faucets are hooked up backwards; the hot water is on the right instead of the left. After I got out of the shower, I checked the faucets in the kitchen and the other bathroom; they are all that way. The only books in the house that I can read were written by Dr. Seuss! This may turn out to be a boring day. I thought of going for a walk outside, but I put that thought out of my head as soon as it occurred to me. The last thing I need to do is to compound my problems by getting lost! No, my best bet is to stay put, right where I am.

So here I sit at the little writing desk in Darryl’s room, passing the time by writing this all down as a sort of therapy, hoping to speed up my recovery from the amnesia. I certainly hope that Melissa is right about a full recovery by evening!