Wednesday, December 01, 1999

Ode to the School Toilet

"My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war." - Jeremiah

Or as we say these days, when you gotta go, you gotta go.

My cultivated reverence for the cloister of cleansing goes back a long, long way. The deeply personal accounts of relationships with toilets - Alvin's encounter with the metre-long sigmoid sausage, Jessica's stercobilinogenous ceiling art, Cold Fusion's School Toilet Library, and Arthur's colonic gurgles - tells me that there is an inbuilt reverence for The Toilet in all of us. It's very personal, yet universal.

Once at the tender age of 9, I had an immense urge to unload. I was in class. But school was almost out. The sun was setting. The school bus would soon arrive to whisk me home. And the thought of having to bare my butt in that gross swamp we call the school toilet crushed all Thoughts of releasing my secret digestions.

'I will keep it to myself', I resolved. Mind did not triumph over matter that fateful day.

The trumpet sounded. I sweated jugs and swallowed bricks. The alarm of war rang in my ears. I heaved and palpitated. My face contorted to unrecognizable proportions. The table was creaking under my tightening grip.

A restive silence. Then comes the thunder-clap of a mighty peristaltic rush. They charged and my cowardly sphincter surrendered, swinging wide open its gates. I crapped. And I wasn't anywhere near the toilet.

After that humiliating defeat by my bowels, carrying emotional scars no psychotherapy will heal, I learned.

Lesson number #1 - Pay attention to your gut feelings and yield to its demands. Anywhere and anytime, baby! You're the boss! You got it right, Debbie Gibson - "If you say jump, I'll say 'how high'? If you say run, I'll run and fly".

Lesson number #2 - Never look down on The Toilet. Cesspool though it may be but when I hear my calling, run and fly to Thee I will!

Many toilet-years later, I have matured. My sphincters didn't grow tighter, but I grew wiser in the relationship. I understood the Toilet, and she took care of me. You just have to treat her right.

For example, if she is swinging her chain, she is saying, "Someone's just been here and really pissed me. I'm hot and I'm flustered, so come back later." If she makes deep gargling sounds, she means, "The last guy really drained me. Let me renew my soul and I'll be ready to dispense living waters again." If she is choking and spluttering : "Don't push me! I'll vomit it all out on you!" There are just so many subtle signs to read - the broken latch on the door, the dripping tap, the absence or presence of paper, the imprints on the great white throne. But they must be correctly interpreted if you are to enter the oracle equipped for a fulfilling experience, sitting or squatting.

Way back in MBSSKL, I was for a year or two the chief of a pack of wolves who wore blue dog chains and guarded the discipline of the school. Yes, the Prefectorial Board - the biggest mafia in Petaling Street. It was a demanding job. I figure I earned the job discovering peanut-smudged school ties in the toilet. (A joke only FEW oldies will get.) And I needed inspiration on a day-to-day basis. There were just so many problems. How to pacify the Principal who is breathing down my neck about poor discipline? How to solve that Physics paradox of metal balls swinging in space? How to express my hormonal crush on the cutest lower-sixer? How to keep the prefects entertained in a board meeting? How to get that 5A's I need in STPM? How to get through this boring class? And so the hours would pass till the appointed time arrived.

As time passed in the morning, my heart got heavier with each new burden. Laden with cares, pushed to the limit, on the verge of cracking under the weight...


A hushed whisper is heard. A breezy voice beckons from behind. My eyes light up! I can feel it within - a stirring in my deepest parts. It is the Call!! The time has come to approach the throne!

Hastily I secure a toilet pass from the puzzled teacher. She never saw a happier toilet-goer. I sprint happily to the school office two blocks away to collect my toilet roll. (Thats' MBSSKL! No tissue paper allowed in school! It's the secret of our cleanliness.) I scowl at the recycled schlock and hold it up against the sunlight.. "I can read news on it, man!" This is going to cause some major injuries, I think to myself, staring at last year's newspaper shaped into a toilet-roll. I wince at the thought of abrasions.

A short trot to the toilet. Its humid but cool ambience is inviting. The sound of dripping faucets and gurgling pipes is mysteriously calming as I pass the gate. My pupils dilate to accomodate the dark as I step pass the shower pipes and into the inner chamber of urinals. With measured steps I approach my shrine - left row, 2nd cubicle from the last. It's very personal, you know.

Left row, 2nd cubicle from the last.

The sanctum.


Here I am.

Unlatch. Enter. Latch.

The ritual begins.

First I turn around and execute a few expert moves.

*Swish.. zzzziipp.. fllorrrpp*

I am bare and unashamed. I slap my arms, Shao-Lin fashion, and enter deep reflection on bended knees. The 5 by 4 chapel insulates me from the stormy world outside. She gives me refuge and draws me to feel my own chaos. To behold it, to wrestle with it, to grapple it, to understand it. I close my eyes. My eyebrows knit in concentration

The minutes pass. I sweat. I tremble. I traverse the long dark tunnel of my confusion. Sometimes the pain is unbearable. But I persist knowing the pain is stretching me and makes the passage easier. Slowly but surely each mystery is unravelled, the convolutions unfold one by one as I take the journey from fore to hind. Every haustra of doubt is cleared, every segment of uncertainty manouevred through. Yes... I have it, I have it! How to outsmart my Principal, how to use kamilan on that physics problem, how to tackle my heart-throb, how to score in my exams, how to clown in the board.... how to.. how to...


Excruciating agony sears through my spine!

Finally, a tsunami of pleasure sweeps over me as I make my rush for the light. All my energies converge and I hurtle at the final obstacle with all my might...


There is a massive explosion. Lights are flashing and the cubicle is spinning. I clutch at the walls in vain as I struggle not to pass out..

*Splat! Slide... Plloommbbb!*



I sigh a great big sigh of relief almost melodiously.

A huge burden has been taken from of me. I have all the answers to life and I soak for a while in my renewed inspiration with which to face the day. The encounter is over. I have my answers and my inspiration. I whistle a merry tune as I arise and bring the rite to a close. Remember the old adage - no business is done till the paperwork is finished! Efficiently I scrub down and suit up. I bow to the throne once, religiously giving her chain a firm tug or two. She gurgles with delight as she beams proudly at how she had directed me with gentleness and finesse.

"Thank you," I whisper silently.

Trot trot, skip, trot trot. "Carrr Peii Diem!" A resolute, confident and lighter me bounds back to class. weaving behind my beloved chapel of purification, till I come back again another day with another load.


At 3:16 PM, Blogger Messy Christian said...

Wow, graphic! haha! who'd think that writing about crapping can be such a poetic activity? ;)


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