Yesterday mid-morning I was hanging up laundry on the veranda when I heard a big bang – and looking down on the street below I saw a mix of motorcycle and sari. The motorcycle quickly drove away, leaving a woman laying on the road. She stood up, then fainted. After a few seconds someone dragged her to the side of the road into the shade. Everyone sort of watched. Who was going to help? One person took her pulse and then walked away. I couldn’t just continue hanging up laundry, so I ran to tell Karin who in turn ran to tell Paul. We went down there. Several people had gathered around her. She was still unconscious. There is a doctor who lives downstairs and he came out purposefully with a flash light. He also took her pulse and looked at her eyes and said, “She is alive” and then walked away.
What to do? People were coming to stare .. the was no blood or sign of injury except that she was unconscious. Karin took her blood pressure, and it was all good. Soon a poor lady with three little babies came near and started to cry, pulling up the lady’s sari to see if she was hurt. Little by little, with everyone’s advice and questions, we sorted out that the two ladies were sisters, out begging with their three little kids. As for what to do, Karin wanted her taken to the medical college. As they wouldn’t all fit in a rickshaw, Paul gave the sister money to take a rickshaw home to drop her kids off. She didn’t want to go, she keep saying, “But I don’t have anyone to watch the kids!” Then Paul paid the rickshaw fare so our friend Tirot and our househelper could take the unconscious woman to the medical college. The crowd dispersed.
Later in the afternoon, Karin, Elias and I traveled by rickshaw to the hospital. I gave Elias a carrot to chew on to keep him quiet for the fifteen minute ride. I had never been in a government hospital. The care is free or very cheap, the food is free, but the wards are packed, the equipment is completely outdated, and the nursing care is almost nonexistent. The ward held about 50 people, with one nurse to look after everyone. We found our lady on a red blanket on the floor, holding her leg and moaning. She did not talk or respond to our questions. Right near her was her begging bowl, which was empty. Elias dropped his carrot, and the lady’s little toddler son picked it up and ate it.
Karin went to talk to the nurse, and gave the nurse some extra pain medicine to give her that night. Karin went out to try to find some drinking water for the lady . . while I sat and waited. A crowd gathered round out of curiosity. Somehow, someone in the ward knew the whole story, so they were telling it with great zeal. “No, they didn’t injure the woman. But it happened right in front of their house. They are big people, and they help the poor. Their servant brought this lady here. The lady has nothing, she is a wanderer.” Elias was passed around. They asked where I lived, and where I was from. When I said Thailand, they didn’t know where that was, so they just assumed that it was somewhere in Bangladesh, which led to a funny conversation. One woman said that her relatives had white children just like my baby. She told how the kids were all white, even their hair, and they couldn’t look at the sun because their eyes were weak. I knew from previous similar conversations that she was talking about albinos, and that she was assuming that Elias was an albino too. So she said, “Why is your hair not black? Did you dye your hair?” I told her that it was my natural color, and she looked very confused. Someone asked me who Karin was, and I said that she was my mother-in-law. They told me off for calling her mother-in-law, as I should have said that she was my mother. Now that is what a good daughter-in-law would do! I smiled and said that I already had a mother. I didn’t need to say that, but I feel like I already live with my in-laws, please don’t make me do anything more!
Karin came back with a water bottle and an orange. We put the things in the lady’s hands and tried to explain to her that they would do an x-ray on her leg the following day. She just nodded. Her sister had come in, and she looked desperate and confused, but there was not anything to do.
The following day, we heard from a friend that the x-ray had happened, and the leg was not fractured, and the lady was discharged.