Sunday, January 17, 2010

The General of J Block

Hans is my colleague and he is from germany. Every morning he walks past my office to his,after punching in. We wave to each other and say our greetings. This morning how ever it occured to me to wish to him in german and the words just came out of my mouth astonishing myself "Guten Morgen,Wie geht's?" ( good morning , How are you ?). I wondered to myself how the hell did i just manage that ?. I felt like a cold wave of air hitting my face. All of it came back to me in a jiffy and i was back in that hospital room again. Let me tell you how i ended up there back in December 2006. Every year on the 24th of december the boarding school i went to hosts a reunion for all its ex-students. As usual i had showed up late, managed to avoid all my teachers and got away with my buddies to the nearest toddy shop. Several Hours later i was on my way back home in my car alone and was perspiring inspite of the air conditioning, when i reached home i could barely manage to undress myself and get to bed.

My memories of the next 48 hours in some what blurred. I vaguely remember the endless vomiting and the rough ride in the dead of the night in an auto to the hospital . Of Being admitted to the understaffed casuality ward on xmas eve. Some nursing student finally learning to use the needle after several horrible trials on me . By that time i was vomiting blue and green and it was bile or gall secreted by hepatocytes from the liver. I was quickly diagonized with acute and potentially chronic hepatitis B . I slipped in and out for about two days amidst a lot of tubes and machinery.

Two days later i stabilized and was moved to a room on another block. Block J to be exact. I spent my time texting people , reading books , smiling at my visitors , flirting with the nursing students , complaining about the food and bugging the doctors. Then there was sister agnes. Sister Agnes was very old , frail , skinny but shar and shrewd like a hawk. She would come in early mornings to make sure i had been given my morning injection, she made sure my bed was made properly ( the students did that ),that i was fed nothing which had salt in it and a thousand other mundane things. In short sister agnes was in charge....she was the General of J Block. During the course of days i noticed her always muttering to herself under her breath in between shouting at the staff under her. I could barely make out what she said but it was sure in a language i never heard before and one day i mustered up all my courage and asked her about it.

It turned out that sister agnes had spent all her working life as a nurse in berlin right after her ordination as a nun till nearing retirement. Here was a woman who had seen the berlin wall going up and coming down. I was a good listener and she was a fabulous story teller and we hit it right off from there. I was awed by her stories from another world and i horrified her with mine.By the time i was up for discharge after almost a month we had become best friends and she had taught me basic german phrases , words and numbering.

Looking back i regret that i didnt gift her anything on the day we said our "Auf Wiedersehen" (good byes ) . She was such a relief to me. I dont know if she remembers me still but i sure am going to remember her every time i hear something in german or see some one from germany or read " made in germany ".