Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hiccoughs, minor and major

Sonny makes all sorts of sounds, from grunts and howls to giggles and coos. But the sound he produces perhaps most often is the hiccough. Actually, Mum has been familiar with it since Sonny was in the womb.

"He's hiccoughing", she would announce to a skeptical Pa, often half-way through dinner at the hawker centre. Not that she could actually hear anything, but she could certainly feel it - the little jolt-and-settle that would come at more or less regular intervals. It's a bit like putting bells on the feet of an out-and-about baby: When they ring, you know that he's up to something, even if you haven't caught sight of him.

Anyway, Sonny has been making his unsteady way about the world for seven-odd weeks now, and his penchant for hiccoughing has been perhaps the most obvious link to when he was marinating happily inside Mum. There's no rhyme or reason to these visitations, which come several times a day, often after feeds - but he never seems put out or bothered. It's just a part of the environment that he never questions, though by rights the jangling should at least make some noticeable impression.

Thing is, after we're good and grown, there are other sorts of hiccoughs that we kind of ignore. Like folks in need. Or unjust practices. Or just our own pettiness. We may take hazy note - it may sound a discordant note - but then we just move on without wondering whether there's anything here that we could act upon or change.

One could traditionally banish hiccoughs by taking nine measured sips of water, or by putting a rice bowl upside-down on one's head, then rapping on it with a pair of chopsticks. For the moment, Sonny has no need for any such solutions. And he'll find no easy folk remedies, alas, for the less ephemeral hiccoughs that crop up in our lives.