I walked through the ill, the living, the dying.
It abhors me. The smell of death, of illness, hangs in the air, attacks my nostrils, insulting my general well being.
“Hello brother, can you take off my boot?”
I am here today to visit my cousin. He has been diagnosed with dengue. He’s recovering well enough, but I wanted to visit him all the same.
“Excuse me brother, please take off my boot…”
I turned to the direction of the voice. The owner is an old man, lying helpless apparent. He is stretched out loosely, his head propped lightly by a flat pillow. He is dressed in green garb, which would not doubt hang off his body is he stands.
I look to his feet, almost hidden from view by a pillow that is curiously fuller than the one propping his head. It is bare.
“There is no boot,” I replied to him.
“Come on, brother, help me out…”
I ignored him and turned back to my cousin. He seems puffy and dazed, having just woken up from his sleep. “I hate hospitals,” I told him. “That makes the two of us,” he replied.
It has not been so. For many years, given that my mother works in one, I am comfortable enough not to hate hospitals. It is a place of healing, a place where the sick are treated for reentry into common life. In the past 18 months, however, I feel that I’ve seen enough of hospitals to last me a lifetime. A feeling that I’ve been here before. Almost a sense of déjà vu, to the point where they all look and feel the same.
“Brother, can you give me some water?”
I turned back to the old man. He seems weak, yet his eyes looked at me, intent. “Please,” he said, “help me out.”
I looked over to his side table, and poured water into a mug. He drank gratuitously. “Thank you.”
Too soon, the visit was at an end. I left my cousin, unable to cheer him up anymore. I don’t know what else to do. I’m sure that if I’m in the same position, I would feel the same way.
I left walking, feeling revolted still by the smell of illness.
As I walked away I realised that I hate hospitals because it is a place that puts me in the midst of people who I can’t help. No matter how hard I try, people will live, and people will die, and there is little I can do about it. It's this feeling of helplessness that I hate.
Perhaps it is not really hospitals that I hate.
Perhaps I just hate being me.
The world might be dying, but at least I shall give it water.