Friday, September 02, 2016

The Repast of Bequeathal

The first thing they did was take my weight.

'Just hop on this scale,' said the attendant, who fiddled around with the top of the weighing scale until satisfied with the balance after I'd obediently stepped up.

'Fantastic,' she said, making a note on her clipboard. I peeked over her shoulder, and for someone who was supposedly ready to leave this world, unwilling to bear the weight of living, I was unreasonably pleased to see I was just a notch below 50 kg. Maybe it was a sign. 

Or not. Maybe it was just a number. Like everything else. 

I appreciated the quiet room to myself, with a window — albeit barred securely — looking over the roof garden. A morass of birds gathered there daily to commune together. This, too, pleased me. I also liked being able to shower. Not the facility of doing it but because I could do so on my own say so and silently and as I pleased. And eating, again being able to take my meals quietly, without having to communicate.

The doctor, sorry, psychiatrist, though, was the worst. He entered the ward briskly, impatiently, not really looking or listening to anyone. His wild unkempt hair seemed an attempt to harness some resemblance to genius. Eastern European or thereabout, he wore his haughty pride like a crown and cape all wrapped up, muffling any capacity to receive humanity.

You were ushered in like a criminal and made to sit across him in a grungy chair. He took lots of brisk notes before he even looked across the table. 

All you had to say was "I'm sad," and he snapped his attention closed and said, "Great," wrote out a shopping-list prescription for the top 12 trendy drugs with hefty doses and left quickly.

Once I returned to my silent empty sanctuary and I was not alone anymore. In the other empty bed was an elderly empty Chinese woman. Her hands were strapped to the cot and she turned her head in my direction, moaning incomprehensible incantations.

Dangerous. Violent. A threat to herself and others her report must have said, but someone thought it was fine to put her in the room with me, two feet away. Maybe they had a point. How could a violent person be a threat to someone who didn't want to live?

So I sat on the window ledge, legs swinging. I felt sorry for her. Who was this old empty woman and why was she here alone? I stuck the straw into one of my precious juice boxes that I made a ritual of saving from the meagre leftovers on the snack table after everyone had come and gone,  and offered it to her yawing toothless mouth. 

She sipped and then smiled with her eyes, tears glistening as she smacked her lips together expressing gratitude. She tried to say something, I shook my head because I could not understand her words, so instead I passed the evening entertaining her with drawings on paper, her hands still tied to her sides, the hours passing silently.

The next morning, her cot was empty. She'd died in the night while I slept beside her.