When we were kids, we were naturally compressed and suppressed. Our arms can’t reach far enough, legs not tall enough, brain not big enough. Thus we are forced to accept whatever that were presented by adults, we shuffled and ruffled quietly (some rather violently) and wished for better days and things as we grow up. Hence the ever popular statement “when I grow up I wanna yadaa yadaa yadaa.”
Ever since I’m 5 years old, I stop eating fish and any fish by products. It happened after a massive fish bone got stuck in my throat. It was traumatic and I promised myself I would never eat fish again. And I have been fish free for the past 25 years.
Choice and preference becomes a privilege as we grow up. At primary school I received RM1 daily allowance which I splur at the school canteen. It becomes to RM10 per week in secondary school. It has given me the luxury of getting what I prefer to a certain extent. It gets better with a bicycle and a nod to use public buses. The reach and choice gets better.
At secondary 4, I joined a full boarding school and within a week I learned the concept of humility. Everything was pre-scheduled and organised. From when to wake up, what to eat, afternoon activities, holistic sessions and what time to lights off and sleep. To live like the others.
A week after orientation, my parents came to visit. I pulled my mom over to a corner and said thank you. Never I expected tears of joy from a mother’s eyes just by those simple words.
These memories came up to me for a reason.
Being a fully capable adult, I am very unrestricted to access all my whims and fancies (within my financial and moral limit of course). For items I can afford now, I manage. For things I still cant afford, I dream. For the foods I want to eat, I pursue. “Jalan2 cari makan” to some extent.
Being in a government hospital brings me back to childlike conditions. All privilege and options are no longer there.
After registration at the emergency room, I checked in at “wad dahlia” a 3rd class ward. The ward was packed with sick patients with beds overcrowding even the corridors. I got a bed beside a window and I started to sweat even before anything. 6 patient share 2 oldish ceiling mount fan.
A houseman doctor inserted a very painful branule to my left vein after 4 failed attempts at other pain-less locations. The services rendered by nursing students and young doctors.
The heat, constant noise and busyness of everyone and everything is not what I’ll say conducive for healing. And old chap even died in front of my bed without me noticing it until his body was carried away an hour later.
It’s take it or leave it here. I don’t complain, I see it as normal for a public hospital.
After a month or so, I feel humility and compassion back to me. Eating foods from the hospital tray really reminds me of the life and life shaping learning that I had during boarding school.
There’s an english proverb that goes about drinking coffee without sugar once in a while, just so that we remember the bitter taste and appreciate more the sweetness of sugar. Well, being in a hospital I have definitely appreciate more of what I have. Except that I still dont plans on eating fish.