It was around this time of the year when the nickname Mighty Jacksparrow first made its public appearance in the year 2003.
It has been some time since I promised many that I will one day unveil the real story behind the creation of the nickname that I have been using for a long eleven-year run; quite a time too long to make the name represents my being in the digital world.
It first started with the name Jack.
* * *
There was this girl.
She was hell of a girl, really, in the eyes of the 18 years old me. Back in the days when the internet was scarce and the cars were easily countable in the campus, my few friends and I used to spend the nights sitting by the drain located in front of our residential blocks, eyeing on young ladies making their way home from night classes. And so it happened that one day she walked across in front of us, and all chattering died in an instant, for what we just saw was entirely heartwarming. There a girl so pleasingly charming melted the hearts of us young men, and without a sound we all admired her from afar.
At the time, young and foolish as I was, I had troubles approaching women.
I was quite the opposite of what I am today; I was terribly shy and I often imagine that the day I converse with a girl will be the day Malaysia wins the World Cup. Some of these friends of mine, realizing that among all them I was the only one who paid real attention to the girl mentioned previously, placed a bet: if I could win the heart of that lady, then I shall be the shepherd of the group.
Poorly equipped and low in confidence, I gave it a try. Long story short, I ran back with my tail in between my legs and to add more insult to the injury, those friends of mine greeted me with none other than explosive laughter. But in the end they were all supportive; so supportive that they gave me the nickname 'Jack', as to remind us the day that I was rejected by the lady we all admired from afar.
"Well at least you have the balls for it, however small," they joked, followed by laughter all night long.
* * *
Everyone knows that Jack Sparrow is the star in Disney's Pirate of the Caribbean. Contrary to the common perception, I did not get the name from him. In fact, I only knew about Captain Jack Sparrow in 2005 when I first watched the movie. Pretty darn late for it, actually.
I used to spend my time watching one of the avian variety commonly known as the sparrow.
These sparrows, they used to give our cafe some heavy visits during lunch hour that within minutes after a table was emptied, they came and swarmed the entire table's perimeter and filled their guts with all the leftover food. For some certain reasons, I used to admire these birds greatly (yes, of all the other birds) because as human are entirely dumbfounded by other magnificent-looking birds, the sparrow seems not to receive quite the attention. I used to buy bread and pinched them into small pieces before throwing at those hungry sparrows, and within days the sparrows recognized me as the harmless, loyal provider.
Tim, one of the higher member of the Mutton Curry Gang, addressed me as 'captain' because at the time, I was the only one within the gang with a car. And by captain he meant an aviation pilot, not a marine captain, thanks to my then and still obsession with aviation technology. When others heard him calling me captain, they thought he referred me as Captain Jack Sparrow.
With all these coincidences collided, the name Sparrow became attached to me.
* * *
A week after Raya, I was down with a very strange fever. This fever got me shivering at all time day and night, even when I was already under a thick blanket with the ceiling fan off. It was during our final examination period, and my friends had to drag me all the way to the examination hall to go for my papers.
Three doctors misdiagnosed me in the duration of eight days, all of them were in agreement that all I had was a common tropical fever. Little that they knew that I was at the time struggling with dengue fever that my friends and I only knew when we hit the door of the last doctor which was the Pantai Puteri Medical Center, Ipoh. We arrived at 8.15pm that night before my last paper, and I was admitted instantly because my conditions were pretty bad. There were only 30,000 platelets left in my blood out of the normally 150,000 to 450,000 platelets in a microliter of blood. Had it drop to lower than that, I would have been facing the grim reality that my chances of survival will be equal to a common housefly to survive through a heavy mist of Ridsect.
It took me five days to be able to recover fully. Pints of water were continuously supplied into my blood stream and I was bedridden all time. Loneliness bit me slowly during that time since I was warded in a single room with no other occupants. No one came to visit because I told my friends not to make it into a commotion, except for some very close friends of mine. It was not until the last night before I was discharged when a nurse knocked on my door and asked if she could make me a company.
She was a young Indian nurse that just went through some very sad moments in life. We spent the night talking and sharing stories until early morning when she excused herself to check on other patients. Before she left, I told her to be strong, and her reply was, "and you must be mighty".
And I became mighty.
* * *
The real reason why I did not open up about how the nickname Mighty Jacksparrow was created was merely because I could not face the public's view about the rejection I received from the girl I admired so much back then.
But as I came to term with it, I realized that if it was not because of that rejection, I may still be the shy, frightened boy who will never have what it takes to greet a girl with a simple, warm hello. Maybe I wouldn't be able to make some people to have had me at hello, and still. Maybe I will never grow up appreciating women nor will I perfect the art of communication with them. Had it not because of the rejection, I may still be the lame, nerdy me that every Tom, Dick and Harry could have made themselves into easily.
Mighty Jacksparrow reminds me of all the hardships I went through in life and the lessons I learnt from them, and most importantly, what the name made me into. Today I am an entirely a different person who has not even a difficulty to greet any man and woman whether in the digital or the real world. Today I am proud of what I am, and I can never feel any better than this. No regrets, just pride and dignity. I'm proud I did that mistake, and I'm proud I didn't hesitate.
Otherwise, if i didn't do it, who would've written you all the wonderful stories like I did?
p/s: happy 8th birthday, Mighty Jacksparrow.