Chapter 3: Chapter 3
The professor laughed dumbfoundedly. He was only a junior in middle school and yet he could predict cardiac arrest. No, that’s not a prediction, but a certain diagnosis. The student who had been brought to the emergency room arrived in an arrested heart condition. His heart was made to beat again, but his brain had already been damaged due to hypoxia. The sustained deep coma lead to the condition of a vegetative state.
“Your heart was arrested for more than five minutes. Is your dream to be a doctor?”
The professor, who was supposed to examine Suhyuk’s body closely, forgot his job briefly due to his irrelevant remarks. He just felt surprised and embarrassed by the fact that what he had to explain came out of the patient’s mouth one by one. Hearing the professor’s word, Suhyuk nodded his head as if he already knew it.
“I just do not know.”
‘Did I have any dream at all? What kind of dream was I dreaming? What was I dreaming to be?’
As he had lost his memory, he could not figure it out, but he had a vague idea that he certainly did not dream to be a doctor. It was because he felt very uncomfortable when he incised a patient’s abdomen with a scalpel in his dream. Of course, he pretty much got used to it over time.
“Do you see this?”
The professor picked up a pen and moved it left to right slowly. Suhyuk’s eye followed the pen at an appropriate speed. The professor confirmed his condition while speaking with him constantly, and he soon could present his own diagnosis. The student’s reaction and mind were perfectly normal. It was really doubtful whether he had been in a vegetative state.
Of course, he can find out the details with a thorough examination later.
At that moment, a middle-aged woman came into the patient’s room hastily. She was a woman in her late 40s, her hair tied back.
“Oh my god, Suhyuk!”
Suhyuk felt instinctively that it was his mom.
Although he can’t remember her face, he felt something sticky deep in his heart, with the same blood vein flowing between them.
“I knew it, my son. I knew my son would wake up soon.”
She was so joyful that she cried warm tears, caressing and touching Suhyuk’s face again and again.
“I think he had amnesia,” the professor said.
“What did you say?” she asked. The professor’s word made her eyes red-hot like a rabbit’s.
“Your son has lost all of his memories from before he had the accident.”
Her hands, touching Suhyuk’s face, shuddered.
“So, what will happen to my son, sir?”
“I have to check it out further, but my opinion is that his condition is all good except for his amnesia.” His condition is good? ‘Good’ is not enough to express his condition.
Even though he opened his eyes casually, he already had his brain damaged. That was a very natural outcome for any man who suffered disability. Nonetheless, the patient was unbelievably normal. Doctors say this is a miracle when they cannot come up with any proper medical explanation.
“It’s okay. If you are healthy, that’s more than enough for me. It’s alright, Suhyuk.”
With pitiful eyes toward son, she dragged his face to her chest. She patted him on the back and soothed him, who must have been surprised as well.
Suhyuk, who threw himself into his mom’s chest, could feel her heart beating hard. Is there a better melody in the world than this? His mother’s bosom was as warm and sweet as ever. If he closes his eyes while like this, feeling snug and warm enough in her chest, he could fall asleep instantly.
Suddenly, a middle-aged man came into the room. He was a slim, middle-aged man with a short sports hairstyle and height of about 165cm. A callus had formed on each of his fingers, suggesting he had done some hard labour.
Suhyuk had to undergo rehabilitation treatment at the hospital. Since he had not used his body for a long time, he found it really hard to walk. Getting rehabilitation treatment quietly, however, he gathered information about himself. He had a family of three, namely father and mother, and himself, the only child.
His father and mother must have supported their only son materially and spiritually. His mother cleaned the building, and his father did rough manual labour on a daily basis with his hands full of calluses. Now he needed to identify one more person form his family.
‘Lee Suhyuk, what kind of guy were you?’
When he had no difficulty walking around after a little over a week’s treatment, Suhyuk went through the discharge process at the hospital.
“Go on a bus?” Suhyuk’s mother, Kim Myunghee, who just came out of the hospital along with her son, asked with a worried look. Because her son never used a bus normally. Still she asked it because her son might be scared of a taxi ride due to the after effects of his accident.
Suhyuk answered with a smile, “Doesn’t matter, taxi or bus.” As he didn’t know how to get back home anyway, and he was not sure about the taxi’s efficiency compared to the bus due to having lost his memory.
“Good for you!”
Kim Myunghee took a taxi her son liked. Soon they arrived at the destination and got off the taxi. It was an old four-story villa with corridors. She took a small sigh when Suhyuk slowly glanced at the villa. He could not recall anything about it.
“As the doctor said, sometimes your memory can come back quite soon. So, don’t be stressed, okay, son?”
As Suhyuk nodded his head, she started to walk ahead. As was the case with an old villa, there was no elevator. Suhyuk, who came up to the third floor, calmed his breathing with a deep breath. He felt short of breath even after walking up only a few stairs.
He apparently needed constant exercise in order to regain his normal condition.
Room 302. Kim Myunghee rolled up her sleeves and opened the door facing the kitchen.
“This is your room. Are you hungry? Let me cook the rolled egg you like very much. So, can you wait a bit?” she said.
“Take your time Mom,” said Suhyuk.
As he stepped over the threshold of the room, she stared silently at the back of her son. That gentle look and smiling face of her son’s. It has been quite a long time she saw it again. While she felt pitiful about her son who had an accident, she wore a warm smile on her face.
There was nothing special about the room. There was a bed, a desk, a computer, and a uniform on the hanger. Looking at the room slowly, Suhyuk approached the desk. Textbooks and notes lay here and there disorderly. Suhyuk pulled out a workbook from the bookshelf and quickly turned it over indifferently. At a glance he found the workbook filled with lots of notes. It was rugged as he used the book countless times.
“I think I should have studied very hard,” Suhyuk thought to himself.
Then he opened the desk drawer. Eraser, ruler, ink stone and all kinds of things were mingled in a messy way.
“I should have cleaned it up.”
When Suhyuk mumbled, he noticed something shining deep inside the drawer.
“What is it?”
It took him some time for him to take it out because it was buried deeply amongst lots of disordered things. It was a diary slightly larger than his palm. There was a toy-like lock shining on it. Giggling a bit, Suhyuk scouted around the room to find the small key. But it was not seen anywhere.
Suhyuk, who was staring at the outside of the diary, grabbed the lock with his hand. If he could give it a hard push, it seemed it would break easily. As expected, the lock broke easily. Suhyuk had some expectation. A diary is another face of its master. It was a good opportunity for him to find out a little about himself. He turned over the first chapter.
<I want to die. I want to kill everybody…>
Suhyuk, stared emptily at those words in the diary, then looked at his face in the mirror hanging next to him.
“What kind of guy are you?”
Suhyuk could find out a little about himself after browsing through the diary. He was a wangtta or an outcast, picked out by students at the worst ratio of probability. The contents of the diary in which he, taking a pessimistic view of himself, cursed specific figures made him predict he was like that.
As there was no more information he could find in there, he had no other choice but to confront his past self, written in the diary, in order to find out more about himself.
It has already been a week since he came home from the hospital. Suhyuk, who got up early in the morning, changed his uniform and looked in the mirror. Pretty good face. On the contrary, his current appearance couldn’t be more pitiful.
Knock, knock, knock.
“Suhyuk, breakfast is ready.”
Kim Myunghee, who entered the room while knocking, seemed a bit surprised.
“Why are you in your school uniform?”
“Because I have to go to school.”
He checked the school location and transportation while he was resting at home. He also contacted the school office and told them that he would go to school as soon as it opened. That was today. Including vacation days, he lagged behind his friends by two months in terms of his school work. Study was the duty of students. He had to work twice as hard as others in order to catch up.
“You’re not quite well, and you need a little more rest…”
She could not remove her anxious look from her face. Although he had no trouble walking around, he still had not recovered memory; and he changed too much. He used to come back home, full with an annoyed expression on his face. He was also confined to his own room, never showing his face. As a result, conversation between them stayed disconnected. However, he was a completely different man after the accident. His face emitted vigor, and his manner of speaking also changed as if he became a mature person. It was obviously a good change for him, but parents had a different perspective. They tend to worry first, because their children might be sick or something might go wrong.
Is this kind of change a poison or medicine for him?
Suhyuk said, “Let me go to school.”
She did not hold him back from walking out of the porch, because she could feel he was very much determined. Instead, she tucked two notes of 10,000 won into his pocket.
“Use the money to buy school supplies.”
Suhyuk did not refuse the money. When her hand reached deep into his pocket, he could feel her warm feelings in his heart.
“Can you find your way to the school alone? Can I give you a ride?”
“No, strange enough, I remember the road to the school,” he lied.
He said it to relieve his mother ‘s worries.
“Okay, let me go,” he said.
“Yeah, goodbye. If something happens, don’t forget to call Mom. Okay, son?”
Suhyuk, wearing a smile on his face, nodded and walked out of the house.
Suhyuk looked at the strange main entrance of the school. He couldn’t recall anything. There was simply nothing he could figure out about the school. Just nothing. He said to himself, ‘My homeroom teacher asked to see me first.’
Going into the school, Suhyuk stopped by the teachers’ office, checking the nameplate, to see the teacher. Casually dressed, the teacher inside had a good impression. He grabbed Suhyuk’s hands warmly and opened his lips.
“How about your condition? If you don’t feel good, you can take absence of school without thinking immediately,” the teacher said.
Suhyuk replied, “I’m okay.”
The teacher took a slow but careful gaze of him looking up and down. He seemed a little leaner than before, but he apparently had no problems. ‘How could a boy like him have been in a vegetative state?’ He just could not believe it.
“Thank God. Was it amnesia? Do you remember which class you were in?” asked the teacher.
Suhyuk replied, “No, I don’t. I think I have to recall everything one by one from now on.”
The homeroom teacher showed an expression as if he were proud of him. In fact, Suhyuk looked always recoiled and shrunk, without any confidence, but he overcame his big illness and showed a different air.
“Sir, how was my grade?”, Suhyuk asked.
The teacher laughed pleasantly. He could reply with confidence.
“Great,” the teacher said.
“How great?” Suhyuk asked.
“You finished fourth in the midterm exam.”
Suhyuk nodded his head because that grade was something he guessed at to some degree. While they were talking, a regular morning conference was approaching.
“Let’s stand up,” the teacher said, and began to prepare class materials such as the attendance book.
“I’ll wait outside,” said Suhyuk.
The teacher, who fixed his gaze on the back of Suhyup, muttered, “He has changed a lot.”
He had to. With past memories lost, Suhyuk now cherished only the one man he met in his dream. That dream was very vivid, like reality. In his dream, the man was in his early or mid-50s. How long was he together with that man? Suhyuk had been lying in vegetative condition for three months, but the timeframe of his dream was longer than that beyond comparison. He had inevitably become more mature and gentle as a result of his dealing with a man much older than him in his dream.
Class 7 of his 3rd school year (8th grade) in middle school. Suhyuk, who visited the classroom with his homeroom teacher, introduced himself to his classmates and sat down in the designated seat. As soon as the brief morning meeting was over, the classroom suddenly became loud with noise. Unfamiliar faces came up one by one, and they said hello to Suhyuk.
“Is it really amnesia?” they asked.
“I’m fine,” Suhyuk replied.
Nodding to them gently, Suhyuk had some doubts in heart. Wasn’t he an outcast? He felt his initial thoughts about himself while he browsed through the diary was mistaken. While thinking about the complexities of the past, his first class was over and a break time came.
“Lee Suhyuk, if you had amnesia, you must have forgotten us, too?”
Three students, namely one touching his horn-rimmed glasses, the other one with cheerful smiles, and the third one with a poker-face, came to see him. They were different in their appearances, but had one thing in common. Their eyes were shining strangely, which could be found in nerds with a peculiar air.