Story Contest 2020 #2 Results »

Sub-junior 3rd Prize Winning Story - Me And My Small Right Ear

“Me And My Small Right Ear” by Cyrus Yang Hanzhe, DeSheng Primary School, Malaysia, is the Third Prize winning story in the sub-junior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2020.

Cyrus has a great desire to acquire knowledge. He is interested in various subjects from ancient history, science, mathematics, geography as well as problem solving in daily lives. Once he understands a subject, he will spend some time to think through and become more curious. He will pose more questions and seek to answer these questions by making connections with the available details. He likes playing various types of chess and is starting to compete within the state level. He enjoys various sports including fencing, inline-skating and swimming with his sister, Arianna. His latest obsession is in solving Rubik Cubes.

Me And My Small Right Ear

I opened my eyes to a sight of blurry objects around me. That was the first time I tried to open my eyes. I was just lying still and trying to figure out what were the things I can see around me. I think that should be a blurry vision of the ceiling, the soft toys around me and even the wooden sticks to keep me safe within the baby cot. At least that was what my mother described to me years later whenever we have our little bedtime chats.

My mother sang lullabies to me every day when I could barely speak and I learnt many beautiful rhythms from her. My favourite song then was “Who is the Baby Looking into the Mirror” by The Sesame Street. I started to learn to look into the mirror and I started to learn about how I look. I stared at myself in awe. I have two eyes, a nose, two ears and a mouth just like my beautiful mother. You can imagine me in my jumpers and I could barely stand for more than a few seconds while I tried to touch them in the mirror and I tried to touch them on my own body before my bum hit the floor again. I frowned. I started to see that I am not exactly like my mother or my cousins. All of them have two ears of the similar sizes but I have a big and a small ear. My right ear is small and I can feel a tiny bud in front of it. I felt that I was different and unlike them. As I grew older and as things became more sensible for me, I started to feel that I was treated differently, sometimes. Whenever we were out in malls or in playgrounds, sometimes there were some children or some adults who would approach my mother to ask her about my small ear. This made me feel that this small ear was a problem and it made me feel uncomfortable.

My mother continued to assure me that nothing was not right with how I look and the small ear was fine. She said that there were people with crooked noses, uneven sized eyes and that ears of not similar sizes were normal. Yet, I knew it wasn’t. I went in and out of hospitals for check ups and for therapies regularly with my grandfather. Sometimes the doctors and nurses placed cables on my faces or into my ear canal. My grandfather told me those were medical probes to test my hearing. Sometimes they deliver electrical shocks to my face muscles. I saw how I look through mirrors. I have asymmetrical smiles. My mother said my lopsided smiles were great and she loved them all! I felt happy whenever she told me that but I still have mixed feelings about that small ear.

When I was 4, my parents brought me to a surgeon overseas. My mother explained my condition to me. “Microtia”. That was the word she told me. It was a condition for people with small ears. It can be just one small ear or having two small ears or having no ears at all. There are also different degrees to how the ears under-developed. Some have no ear canals at all! From what I saw in the hospital for microtia patients, I think I was much better than the rest of the microtia patients. I felt that I was luckier compared to them. The doctor discussed with my parents and my mother told me that I could have an operation performed on me to make the small ear as big as my left ear as soon as I was ready before I entered primary school. However, I will not be able to snuggle onto the pillow on my right anymore, I could not play games like basketball, football and others. My mother gave me a smile and told me that I look great and I did not need to have this operation before I enter primary school but as and when I feel that I am ready. I thought and thought for many months and finally I told my mother that I would not want that operation. My mother had never asked me to have long hair to hide my small ear, she had never asked me to wear caps to hide my ear. She would answer questions on my ear very gracefully whenever she got questioned by friends or even strangers. I felt that if she have tried so hard to educate people around me on what is this small ear really about, I should not feel rejected with it but glad just as how I felt when I saw other kids with worse conditions than me in the Microtia hospital that I went to.

I started to learn how to respond to other people when I was asked about my small ear. I did not do it well in the initial phases but I gradually became better. My family, my relatives, my neighbours and some of my friends treated me exactly like how they would have behaved with a non-microtia child. They even think I am smart sometimes especially when I am pretty good in chess games and many other activities.

I turned from a kid who looked at himself abnormally to someone who thinks that he is actually normal. I treat this as a chance to learn to accept myself gradually. I know I am imperfect in how I look to many people but I got the strength and courage to live on from the persistence, love and care shown by my family members. I hope I can grow up to be a successful person one day and be able to make other “imperfect” child like me to feel that they are normal and we will all struggle together to live in this world like anyone else who is “perfect” or less than “perfect”.

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