Friday, August 04, 2006

From Zero to Hero: Becoming Boilerman

It was not long ago that an ordinary Bahraini workman was minding his own business, trying to get through life one day at a time. Not until a month ago that is. Until that fateful evening. An evening that will be forever remembered in the annals of Bahrain's history.

By now, you might be wondering as to who might this Boilerman fellow be. You might ask what are the super-human powers he possesses, and who is he? Rest assured all will be answered in due time. For I have managed to convince Boilerman that although his good deeds are done neither for fame or fortune, they have to be known, to be told and retold so that Bahraini's all over can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that out there is a True Bahraini Hero (TBH.) A TBH that will do his utmost best in defending the rights of the underpriviliged and helping our small island country become a Better Place for All (BPA.)

So rejoice, dear reader, as I present below the first of many conversations and communiques with Boilerman.

Please note that I have NOT seen Boilerman in person. Our communication is strictly by means of telephone, messaging and at times via a certain khabbaz (local baker) in the Northern Area of Bahrain. Perhaps one day we'll meet in person.

The following conversation took place via 256-bit key secure VOIP late last night.

BIN: Boilerman Information Network, BM: Boilerman


BIN: Boiler, thanks for agreeing to this. I know it took some pestering on my part to convince you that it's important to let people know about your adventures, trials and tribulations.

BM: Absolutely. I agree. And you're welcome... it's strange, now that I'm Boilerman. It seems that I could speak and people will listen.

BIN: Well, it's only me at the moment. Let's just hope more people find out about you. I'll do my best to spread the word.

BM: True. Although it's been only a month since I've become Boilerman, I have a certain feeling that my life will be... will be one hell of a book if someone wants to write it. I just feel it. There's so much more awareness in my head now than there ever was. So much more clarity of thought. I see it all now. I see the truth, the lies, the mistakes, the spite, the greed, the futility, the hope, the love...

BIN: Right. Well, if you wouldn't mind, let's start with Who is Boilerman? Who are you, Boilerman?

BM: The short version is that I was an ordinary guy who minded his own business then one day gets hit on the head (figuratively speaking), develops super-human powers and becomes a fully-fledged by-the-book superhero. You know, your basic superhero story. At least it is for most of the superheroes out there, apart from some like Superman who are born superheroes.

BIN: Well, can you be more specific. Tell us about who you were before getting hit on the head and what happened and all of that. Details! Details!

BM: Of course. I'd love to... It all began a little over a month ago. I was a workman at the Hidd Power Station (HiPS.) Just a low level workman, doing ten hour days six days a week. It was a tough job. But I loved it. I've always been mechanically inclined, and since I was assigned to Turbine Monitoring and Maintenance I enjoyed it immensely.

The pay at HiPS wasn't that great. You see, I'm a school dropout (had to, my dad was getting old and I along with my three brothers and two sisters needed money more than ever.) I worked at a farm and the market until I was eighteen or so. Then I had the opportunity to get vocational technical training by virtue of support from my elder brother. It wasn't that bad, I was good at math and physics and liked machines and noisy things with lots of steel and smoke and whatnot. I loved it, I tell ya.

So, that's how I ended up at HiPS following the completion of six or seven courses on basic mechanics and maintenance. Then...

BIN: I guess this is the long version, eh?

BM: Listen, you want the whole story or...?

BIN: I'm sorry. Go on, at HiPS, what happened?

BM: I was working the late shift. It was about quarter past one in the morning. Not a single soul in the station apart from one or two guys in the control room, and six or seven on the field checking that everything was in tip-top condition. I myself was tasked with one of the Turbine Control Systems.

Everything looked fine. It was a perfect evening, not too hot and the humidity was low. Unlikely for June... I was busy thinking, or rather being eaten up, about my credit card debt, my broken down Datsun 120Y, my receding hairline, my sick mother, my estranged second brother who has been missing for two years, my best friend whose been incapacitated for the last five years after a drag race accident, our two bedroom house with rusted water pipes and exposed electric wires that power three bulbs, a tv, satellite receiver and a fridge. In short, I was broding about my condition and wondering how I could change my life with whatever I'm getting. Which was all being drained by the credit card bills and medication for my mother.

The weather started to seem very hot, humid and all round unpleasant.

And then BANG! Bam-ba-BOOM! I turned around to look at the control system, it was frying up badly, smoke everywhere, sparks flying here and there. I tried to run away, but I tripped and fell headfirst onto the hard concrete floor. As I got up, a swinging cable crashed down on me. It was live. I don't know how many volts. I have no idea. All I know was that for ten or fifteen seconds I was encased, enveloped, almost suspended in the air within an electrified sphere. It was beautiful. It hurt somewhat. I thought I was dead. It seemed to me that I was dead, since a certain numbness ran down from my head to my toes. And then I blacked out.

I awoke three days later in the Salmaniya Medical Center intensive care unit. My entire body felt lighter than before. I ached somewhat, my muscles where sore. Yet I felt more alive than I ever was. It was strange, sort of like having been born again. Funny thing was, I lost all my hair. I was electrophorized I guess. Smooth as a billiard ball. So much for worrying about my receding hairline.

BIN: What happened then, did your family come over, workmates?

BM: Well, they did. My sisters and brother (except for the missing one.) The thing was, the tragedy of it all, my mom died a day before I awoke. She died worried sick over me. She died because I didn't wake up early enough. She died when the doctors were already giving up on me, telling her that I am practically braindead and that they could harvest my organs as a last resort for deliverance.

BIN: They did?

BM: That's what I learned later on. That they talked to my brothers about it. They refused, saying that if all that power surge didn't kill me, it could also mean that I'd wake up at any moment... the docs didn't mean any harm, I know. I mean, I was apparently braindead. My noodle got cooked.

BIN: So how come you're still...

BM: I don't know. All of a sudden it seems that my brain cells started replicating. It was a miracle. It was something that never happened to anyone before. My entire brain was back to its normal self in the span of three days.

BIN: Damn...

BM: I tell you, it was strange. And yet, I have to say, it's like getting a whole new clean slate to work on while having the old one to look at. You know, I still had a grinding credit card debt and down-on-my-luck sort of crap hounding me, yet I had also this entirely new perspective now. A new perspective that made me see it all so much clearer. I just felt that I could take the world all at once and... okay, this is a bit corny... and right what's wrong.

BIN: How would you do that?

BM: Once I left the ICU, I went back home. The strange thing was, nothing fit. I tried my old clothes, nothing. I borrowed a thobe from my brother and that was just barely okay. I mean, I was all bulked up. It was strange. Ripped. You see, I was a scrawny 5'5" guy, that after the accident was a... not so scrawny 5'5" with some serious muscle.

BIN: Damn...

BM: A week later, my supervisor at work was kind enough to bring me a new boilersuit. My old one had disintergrated during the accident. He told me to come back to work whenever I felt ready.

BIN: So did you?

BM: I donned the boilersuit. And at that moment, at that moment when I took a good look at myself in the mirror, the strangest feeling came over me. I felt empowered. I felt I could do whatever I wanted to do.

For the next few days, I went to the local gym in my new boilersuit. All the guys there knew me as the part-timer who would oil the machines and test the cable pulleys. Now they couldn't even recognize me. I tackled each weight machine one by one. From 20kg I now could lift 200kg. It was fantastic. I had super-human strength. Strange as it may seem, the more I pushed myself to the limit, the more I felt I had more power.

It was then that I realized I was no longer my old self. I was this new person with a new superbrain and a new superbody. A combination that would enable me to right what's wrong. To finally have a say in this world I was born in... a world that I was born in for a second time.

BIN: Now, would you say that your family was okay with your new you? What about your workmates?

BM: You see, that was it. My brothers and my sisters each had their own life, they each lived with their own family. I lived with mom. Now that mom was no more, I was alone in our rundown house. Each of my brothers insisted I move in with them, but I refused. I'd stay. I'd be where I was because that was the only thing that really allowed me to see who I was before the accident. The house I was raised in. I had a certain attachment to the decripit two bedroom place. It would be my new, my new, well, I'll fix it up, and it'll be my... Boilerman's HQ. As to my superpowers, I'm not sure any of them noticed. Apart from my lack of hair. That was all they could notice. The same goes for my workmates. "You're bald, yet so young, what a pity! Hey, welcome back and glad to have you working again!" they would say.

So, as you see, I still keep my job at HiPS and live in the same old house. And it seems that the only people who notice I'm superhuman are the one's who did not know me before.

BIN: That was almost a month ago. During the intervening time, what happened? Did you use your new superhuman powers to help someone?

BM: Oh yes. Lots and lots of times. You see, I don't sleep much anymore. An hour or two is all I need. And then I'm off scavenging the country for wrongs to right. No matter how small or large the problem, I'd always try to help. I'd have my say. Id' use my brain and brawn to change things for the better.

BIN: Sweet. SO, tell us, what was your most exciting adventure to date?

BM: My most exciting... or rather most altruistic and helpful endeavor must have been when I stopped a secret plan to take over a certain government organization. A plan that could have had drastic effects on the future of Bahrain.


Stay tuned for one of many Boilerman adventures. In the next instalment of Boilerman: Operation Umm Groon. In the meantime, let Boilerman know of any problems our beloved country might be facing @ boilerm***N0_SPAM*** (remove ***N0_SPAM*** before emailing.)