My little blue, point and shoot camera has given up the ghost and stopped working. Recently it sometimes refused to start up, but with a sneaky battery boost it would forget its obstinacy and wake up. But now it has completely frozen, lens protruding and a malfunction message. No pulse, no heartbeat. No response to resuscitation attempts.
And my mind is similarly paralysed, paranoia lodged firmly in my brain. I am quietly freaking out.
I have just returned from a field visit to our project sites in a township in a remoter part of the country, and as always took far too many photographs. Each time I switched on the camera, to capture a passing image or moment I nervously awaited the digital start up beep to tell me the camera was functioning. Then on our flight back this morning, as I switched it on to snap a sight which caught my eye, I was disappointed that it gave a little warning “ting”. A message told me there was a lens malfunction and to restart the camera. Which I did. Only to receive a repeat message. Again and again I tried.Nothing. The lens is still stuck. The camera appears to be dead.
I have visited this same township before. And bizarrely, the camera I had then started to malfunction while in that very same township. That was my old, faithful first digital camera, which had taken thousands of photographs in Nepal, Thailand, China, Mongolia, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the UK and of course the early months in Myanmar. I had bought it nearly four years previously and had dragged it everywhere with me, loving the novelty of digital images. I especially enjoyed the fact that I could never run out of film. But the screen stopped functioning during that visit, and all images were plain white. My camera had come to the end of its short but intense life, and has lain at rest in a drawer ever since.
The visit to that township was in September 2009. Eleven short days after my return to Yangon from that field visit, with my defunct camera, I discovered a lump in my breast. A few days after that I was sitting in consulting room No 59 in Bangkok’s Samitivej Hospital, the words “highly suspicious……… cancer….. highly suspicious…….. cancer………. cancer……… cancer” ringing all around me. The rest is history, as in the history of the feisty blue gecko entering new and unwanted territory. Within twenty days from my return to Yangon with my broken camera in September 2009, I had had major surgery and the confirmation that I had two tumours and cancer in six lymph nodes.
The neat little camera which has finally broken today, was a replacement for the camera which did not last after that earlier field visit. And just to add the icing to the bitter tasting cake? My cute, lucky blue, newly broken camera was my very first chemo treat.
My next round of checks is in directly front of me, and the associations between the first field visit, the broken camera and the word cancer echoing around the room, are too obvious for my fragile mind not to draw immediate parallels.
Add that to the recent raised markers and increased medical surveillance. Is it surprising that my mind has rushed into a dark space? Is it any wonder that I am quietly freaking out?
Reason tells me that the broken cameras and that particular town are nothing more than a quirky coincidence. But a sensitive mind darts into irrational places. Particularly a mind which has already been pushed into dark corners it never dreamed existed.