I’ve just finished reading the short story, “The Unbitten Elbow” by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, taken from his book, “Autobiography of a Corpse”. It recounts a man’s obsessive attempts at biting his elbw and the social, economic and philosophical consequences of his endeavours. The opening sentences not only introduced the topic but, unwittingly, served as kindling for my own childhood memories, of my own tries at getting teeth onto elbow. Curiously, the author doesn’t make any reference as to why the main character (known only as No. 11111) wanted to bite his elbow so desperately. I would have loved to know his motivation simply to see if it matched mine. During my schooldays – I must have still been in primary – rumour had it that this was a guaranteed way of changing sex. Now to be clear, I had no particular wish to become a girl but I was certainly piqued to succeed where no one else had.
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky came wailing into the world in 1887 and took his last breath in 1950, a decade-and-a-half before I drew my first. The only tenous link I can trace to the author is the continental proximity, with Sigizmund having been born in the Ukraine to Polish parents, while I was born in Malta to Maltese parents. Evidently though, this fascination with biting one’s elbow was not restricted to my time or my town. So I ask you readers out there, do you have similar childhood memories? Did you also go through this time-wasting phase, intent on tasting the joint where the arm bends? What, allegedly, would have happened had you succeeded?