In “Million Dollar Baby: Stories from the Corner”, FX Toole writes about the magic of boxing as seen from the eyes of a trainer and cut man:
And there’s the magic that breaks your heart. You’ve got a kid with a bloody nose. If it’s broken, forget it, it’s going to keep bleeding. But just a bloody nose you can usually stop. So you wipe the boy’s face clean, shove a swab soggy with adrenaline into the nostril that’s bleeding. You work the swab around, and you close the other nostril with your thumb. You tell the boy to inhale, so the adrenaline will flood the broken tissue and constrict the vein and widen the blow hole. But the boy doesn’t inhale. You say, “Inhale!” Nothing. You say it again, “Goddamn it!” Time is running out, and then you see the boy looking at you like you’ve been speaking Gaelic or Hebrew. So then you understand, and you say, “Breathe in!”
He breathes in through the adrenaline while you put pressure above his upper lip. The adrenaline gets to the tear, and the blood stops coming, and he’s ready to fight again. Blood is pumping in your neck because you almost didn’t stop the blood. But part of you has traveled to the place where the boy lives, to the place where no one uses words like inhale. That’s magic, too, but it’s the kind that hurts you, the kind that makes you better for hurting.
Superb book—and I picked it up for just Rs 75 at the ongoing Landmark sale. That felt like magic as well.