Saturday, 20 July 2019


Date: In the future
Deceased Name: Sarah Alexander
Cause of Death: Death by Electrostatic Discharge

Have you ever pondered on how you might die? I have a morbid fascination to predict the cause of my death and in every scenario, I always seem to die due to a Static Electric Shock.

Static Electric Shock, you say? Is that even possible? Yes, it’s possible when your body is different and there seems to be an imbalance of electrical charges within the body. Even before I was old enough to realize what this phenomenon meant, I knew something was not right with me. From a very young age, I’ve been getting off static shocks and sparks off from everything you can imagine, any kind of material, in any kind of weather, in any kind of footwear. Which is the main reason why my hair is SO frizzy and curly and unmanageable ALL the time.

Whilst growing up in India, on our return from family outings, my dad would delegate the opening of the garage door to me. I would get out of the car, in the pouring rain, fumble to turn on the lights of the garage and garden, and finally when I touch the metal door of the garage door, pffttt, I would recoil in shock. No amount of begging or pleading or explaining would make my family understand why I wasn’t a suitable candidate for this task. Finally, my self-preservation took over and I flat out refused to get out of the car to do this task and someone else from the family had to do it. I used to think that maybe this had something to do with the loose earthing connection and the relentless rains there.

Fast forward a few years later and I’m in Ireland, working in a giant tech office where I’m confident that the earthing is sound. So again it does not explain why I get powerful shocks, whilst pressing the lift buttons, opening the taps in the washroom, sometimes even off my chair and laptop. Colleagues look on in amusement when I scream out “Ouch” every so often, or when I try to press the lift button with my elbow and not with my fingers (This my fellow sufferers, if there any more like me on this planet, is a useful trick. The electro statistical discharges are not that intense when you refrain from touching surfaces with your fingertips or extremities)

Recently, I was travelling on my own with my 3 year old. We had just got off a 7-hour flight and I was pretty proud of myself for managing the child alone. Our stopover was in Abudhabi (a long 6-hour layover) and I put my son on the metal baggage trolley and started pushing him through the airport. I leaned over to kiss him on his cheek and suddenly there was a loud CRACK, like a pistol shot, accompanied by a spark on his cheek where my kiss made contact.

Within 2 mili-seconds, the Emirati Airport Security surrounded me screaming “Get Away”, “Put your hands up in the air”, “What was that, explain yourself!”
My son was howling, rubbing his cheek crying out, “Mama, a bee bit my cheek” and I, shocked out of my senses, trying to explain to the Emiratis what just happened.

Seeing that I looked Indian, they started questioning me in rapid-fire Hindi or Urdu, not realizing my levels of incompetence in those languages. How do you explain the phenomenon of Static Electricity in English, never mind Hindi, when your hands are up in the air and guns pointing at you?

I started blabbering “Bijli, Bijli” (meaning electricity in Hindi), pointing out to my rubber-soled sneakers and the carpet and to the metal trolley. As if to disprove my theory, two other women sailed by, all wearing rubber soled sneakers, with their kids on the trolley, all smiles and happiness all around.

The Officers looked at each other and started scratching their beards perplexedly- They are not sure how to handle me, what level of threat I could be, what my mental condition is. Just then, a man who had been watching the proceedings, came to my rescue. He explained to them what he thinks might have happened and the officers finally consented to let me go. I would like to think that the man was an angel physics professor in disguise.

The officers kept a watchful eye on me all through the 6-hour layover in the airport.
All that time, my son kept asking me, “Mama, why did the bee sting my cheek?”
I started explaining to him what Static Electricity was all about but then I was so tired, I was like to hell with scientific explanations and just said “Because that was a bad, naughty bee”

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