Here is a short story written by me .. and hope you will like it .
It’s June 2008 , few days and my annual leave will start and I have a lot of plans , a lot of things to do ; dreams to achieve. My holiday starts from 15th June and it will be whole two months.
“ So , dear “, said my mother . “ Are you going to travel to the Solomon Islands this year ?”
“ Oh mom ! I would like to but I have other plans for this year .”
Being a nurse a surgical ward is not an easy task especially when that hospital serves a big governmental area in Kuwait. In sometimes the only name that I hear in the ward is mine .
“Nora ! come help me lift this patient “ , “ Nora take this patient to the x-ray “ , “ Nora where are you ?” It’s either my name is so easy , it just always happens that I am in the right place.
Working in the surgical ward is something challenging and interesting though I wanted to work in the Critical Care Unit or the Cardiac Care Unit , not yet made up my mind. But in the surgical ward you get to see all different kind of diseases , different surgeries for each patient. Nurses job is a tough one but I believe that there are two elements that makes any work successful and producing i.e the colleagues and the environment . In some fields you need not a colleague help to finish your job such as those who work on computers or any individual work but in nursing or medical field we count a lot on team work starting from doctors , physicians , nurses and even porters . A part from loving your work which changes every aspect in your life.
I came home late that night , I was on a evening shift so I finished at 10 o’clock evening but I stopped by a café and had a hot chocolate . Soon after reaching home ; I took a shower then had something to eat . Later, I opened my laptop to check my emails and to book for my flight . For everything started talking a shape . Am not a person who is fond of travelling and most of the times that I travelled it was with my mother and we have been to lovely places together, I did that mostly to strengthen the relationship between us, which was sometimes unstable.
“ But this time I am travelling alone and with my choice. I want to make something different and I had finally found what I wanted to do . “
I was up until 2 am in the morning until I found a reservation and booked the flight which is exactly on the second day of my holiday .
“ Hope to have enough time to pack things up ! “ I wondered .
Days went so fast and the two weeks were almost done . In one evening I told my mother what I was up to .
“ Mom ! I had already booked for my flight .” I said and broke the silence as we were dinning .
“ Oh dear ! so you’re travelling to the Solomon Islands .” Mother questioned .
“ Oh no ! mom . Am not .”
“To Where then? “surprised
“ Am travelling to Uganda .” I replied
“ What !!! and where the hell is that ?” She asked
“ Mother ! you remember last year when I told you that I would like to help the poor and make something special . It in me every since childhood . I am going to travel to Uganda . It’s one of the poor countries in eastern Africa . And they are in need of doctors and nurses there. So , I decided to volunteer there during my two month holidays and then come back . “
“ Nora ! you are my only child , and I don’t want to see you getting hurt . Just make sure to be safe out there” she said those words while holding my hands.
“ Thank you mom ! I will be .”
I said those words and I don’t have any idea whether or not it’s safe in there. Somehow I will prepare myself for the worst .
Yes ! I was heading to Uganda . It could be a thrilling thing to do for a normal urban girl and at the same time it wasn’t something easy to go through.
Days passed by and today was my last day at work . My friends and colleagues has prepared a small party for me ; well not a big thing but it was so nice of them to take that approach .
“ Good morning Nora “ said Julia
“ Good morning Julia . How are you doing? ” I answered
“ Am great ! Hey don’t forget your to attend your party at 12 afternoon everyone will be there at the staff dining room “ she said it in a sarcastic way since she knows that I always get busy with the work and forget even to have something to drink .
“ I will try not to miss that ! “ laughing.
Later I could see all the doctors and nurses and nursing director all were heading to the tea room . They were waiting for me while I was administering an intravenous catheter as I finished I went to check on bed number 9 which was calling . While heading there I came across Sarah and she asked me where I was going .
“ The patient in bed 9 is calling , I think the drip has finished I will go change it “ I replied.
“ Oh Nora ! everyone is waiting for you … I will go check that patient just relax and go to party” Sarah said .
As she insisted on that .. I went to the tea room and I was surprised when I entered that there were many people around . I never expected so many . There was a two big tables at the side full of cold drinks and sodas and a cakes and deserts . Balloons decorating the room . That was so amazing to see them all .
And once I stepped in everyone was clapping and welcoming . I loved it . I never realized that I was so beloved. Everyone was greeting me and wishing me all the best . We were sharing our past memories and chatting about many things. And there I saw Dr. Hakim coming towards me, I could hear my heart throbbing . He was a person that I cared so much about. And I never shared it with him , it always close friendship that connected us . After all , it would be silly for a girl to say , “ I love you “ . He is a big neurosurgeon , very handsome with an adorable smile , average height and so good looking . While am just me ! Maybe others don’t see that or maybe because I loved him he seemed so perfect in my eyes.
He approached closer to where I was sitting alone.
“May I sit ?” he said while holding a chair next to me .
“ Yea , sure “
“ So , you are leaving “ Said Hakim anxiously
“ Yea.. but its only couple months “ I answered slightly
“ That’s a long period , so what are you planning for ?”
“ Well I am going to volunteer in Uganda as a nurse. They need many health team workers. “
“ Oh ! that is great , you could have told me earlier . I would have accompanied you. “
“ Well ! it all happened so fast.. and I didn’t see you for a while .”
And we were quiet for sometime ; staring at each other. He looked right to my eyes and that made me lose all my ideas . Everything I wanted to talk to him about just vanished and I didn’t know what to say. It was him , who broke the silence after about 20 minutes. And said “ Oh Yea 1 I got you a small gift. “
And he took a book that he held in his hand , I don’t know why didn’t notice it when he sat . Anyway as he handled it to me .
“ Wow , Shakespeare Sonnets.. I always wanted to get one . Thank you Hakim “
And suddenly we were interrupted by some friends . Dr. Ahmed , Sarah and Jack . They came around us and kept talking and laughing . It was in my thought that I was screaming and saying “ why now ???”
“ Well then guys ! see you later . I have to leave now , they are calling from the Operating theater .” Said Hakim as his phone was ringing .
“ Why do you have to go ?” but I didn’t say that out loud . It was me and only me who heard it and felt sad inside.
“ Is the brain injury case ?” Asked Dr. Ahmed
“ Yea ! it’s the surgery time . “ replied Hakim quickly .
Then he turned to me and said , “ Nora ! take care of yourself and good luck with your travel. “ He said it with lots of passion and I didn’t reply I just looked at him while he walked away. And somehow I knew that it was the last time I would see him for the next two months and that caused me pain. All I ever wanted to let him know was that I loved him and that I never want anything in return .. absolutely nothing in contrast. But I know I can’t even say half of that…
Things between us was so complicated and foggy . I never want to lose him so I prefer to have him a friend . We both belong to two different worlds . He was a rich handsome doctor , belonging to a wealthy known family in the society , he belonged to a different ethics and beliefs , and I don’t think that he would ever think of someone like me. Although sometimes I feel that he’s the only one who cares about me and understands me especially when it comes to my diabetes . I mean diabetes never caused that issue for me but he likes making sure that I am taking my shots well .
The party was over and that was over too. I went home that evening lying in the bed and thinking about him but soon I got up washed my face; I had to wake up from my day dreams . For there are things in life that we can’t get no matter how we feel they are true.
I couldn’t sleep that evening so I started arranging my luggage . Tomorrow is going to be a big day . I have to go shopping then pass by the bank to get some cash and then go to my uncle’s house to say goodbye . They insisted on seeing me though I know their main concern is how am I travelling alone .
Next day went by and I had accomplished all the set plan . I went to bed that night so deeply because I was so tired . My flight was in the 11 am and I had already called Dr. Paul Smith in Uganda . He was the man who will meet in the airport that presented the United Nation doctors over there.
Tuesday 17th , I woke up at 7 am on the alarm .As I went to kitchen , I could see that mom was already up and she was preparing my favorite pancakes.
“ Good morning dear ! I made you the lunch . Your favorite pancakes . I don’t even know if you will have nice food there “
“ Thank you mother ! And make sure I will be just fine . I will call you everyday to comfort you , besides you know I can cook well “
I finished my breakfast that day and dressed up . It was summer , so I thought of wearing something light and colorful . I wore a light pink dress with yellow flowers and spots . It was slightly below the knew . And I had curled my hair . I had my laptop and small hand bag . With my luggage it was one bag I didn’t need to bring a lot. Some books and something to put on. And of course I didn’t forget to take the Shakespeare Sonnets.
My mother drove me to the airport . As we reached and I was to going to pass the security . I kissed her forehead and hugged her. She was crying
“ Are you sure you will be fine , dear ? You never travelled alone. And I heard that there is war over there . “
“ Mom ! this is the tenth time that I assure you .. The war ended there and things are going to be fine . “
There I left as I heard the last call for my flight and I passed the security. My destination was going to be from Kuwait to Dubai as a transit and then I will be on another flight which will take me to the capital of Uganda , Kampala .
After 6 hours trip I heard the pilot say .” Put on the seat belts we will land in minutes at the Kampala international airport. “
I was anxious at the beginning but finally we landed safely .
The airport was so crowded and many people were rushing and pushing over . It wasn’t a big airport nor fancy but it was functioning well . I got my luggage and went walking through after doing all the procedures. Among all the crowd I could see a tall white man which was easy to distinguish him as everyone else was dark skinned . I could see that while man somewhere in the end of the 30s with blue eyes and dark hair , he was holding a small black board with a chalk writing on it that said “ Nora Ali “ , which carried my name. As I approached closer he looked straight at me and smiled as he knew it was me. He kept the board down aside and then I said, ”Hi , Are you Dr. Paul ? Am Nora ! “
“ Oh yea ! Am Paul and I have been waiting for you .”said Dr. Paul
Then I took my ID out to show him in case he doubts me although he didn’t seem to and he didn’t ask for it . He saw it and returned it to me politely .
“ I’ll take you to where you will stay and I don’t want you to expect much in here.”
I came out and it was about 3pm . Dr. Paul carried my heavy bag while was holding the laptop and the handbag . He showed me the way to his car, it was an old grey jeep and it was full of mud and sand all over . It was almost never been cleaned for months. I was quiet most of the time and he did all the talking .
“ I want you to relax for today and you can start work from tomorrow morning .
You will find doctors and nurses from different countries of the world all under the UN and don’t bother about the language , some local people know English otherwise there are two interpreters working with us , kinto and Marl ” He added.
“ Thank you “ I replied . Well ! that what I said most of the time. And I kept staring through the window of the car. I could see kids with torn clothes running barefooted , women carrying heavy water bottles on their heads . They looked at us and smiled . Everything seemed totally new for me . The was about an hour and half from the airport until we reached our destination. There was a big wooden gate ; we passed it and their I saw a big sign hanging on the top of the building of a two-storey that said “ HOPE HOSPITAL “ .
People were waiting outside , women holding sick babies , old men on crutches and many more waiting to be treated . Doctors and nurses were taking them in and helping them to be treated .
“ You don’t get to see this every day . Today we lack many of our staff and that is why we can’t admit much besides there has been a bombing in a village nearby that is why many injured are here .”
So we are at the hospital and this is where I will be . I thought he said I will relax for today . I was wondering why is he talking me to the hospital although I wouldn’t mind working . The plans and the way here wasn’t that tiring.
“ Yea ! you must be wondering where will you stay and why I brought you here. Well there is where we stay …” He said as he pointed at a old creepy house which was about 20 meters distance from the right side of the hospital . He parked his car at the front door . Now I knew what he meant when he told me not to expect much.
He carried my luggage and I followed him as he opened the door apparently there is no key he just opened it . As I entered I could see that it was very congested with stuff and not tidy . The living room was in a big mess and the furniture was a bit old . We were going in the corridor and passed by many rooms ; at the end of the corridor we stopped and he said , “ Here is where you will sleep . It was Angie’s room before she goes back to Australia. I made them fix it for you.”
It was so lifeless , no flowers , no lights and so dark . As I sat on the bed it was hard and I can already imagine how am I going to sleep tonight. To the left of the bed was a small brown closet.
“ Well then ! try to relax and feel comfortable of going around . The bathroom is at the right of the kitchen where we entered . We live in here with other doctors and nurses , in fact all the staff of the hospital . We will back around 8 pm as the sun sets we can’t work .. we try to finish things up with the help of the candles at the last hour . When I come back I will introduce you to the team. “ He said .
“ Thank you , Dr. Paul .” I replied humbly
“ Your welcome and see you later. “
Then he left me . And I was all on my won . First thing I wanted to do was to take a shower. I wanted to put on something more causal; a jeans and any simple t-shirt . But it didn’t go that easy as I went to the bathroom and when I opened the tap water to wash my face – it just seemed to be nothing coming out ! I felt so depressed so I went to the kitchen and there was no water too.. fortunately I got a water bottle to drink and poured the rest on my face as it was really so hot . I went back to my room and wanted some light in. So behind the curtain I expected a window so that I can open . As I moved the curtains away , It was a small verandah just like in those old movies. I liked it . And the fresh air came in with the lightening . It made me feel much better. When I looked through at a small distance I could see few people standing there waiting for their turn , it seems many had went in or left.
Suddenly there was a young man’s voice shouting for help at the gate .
“ Help , Help , Somebody save my wife ! “ cried a young man from far.
I ran outside and went to them . As soon I reached her I check her pulse and respiratory rate , everything was dropping down so fast. She was a pregnant I could tell she was going to deliver now . We carried her in the hospital . Hence , a young doctor came running .
“ What’s wrong ?” he said .
And I have replied him and gave him a brief history that I took from the husband who spoke a little English and that was of a great help for me . The young doctor looked surprised . he probably thought that I am normal person especially with my funny dress who didn’t suit the harsh environment in Africa.
“ And you are …. ?” He questioned me
“ Am a nurse .” I replied confidently .
“She is going to deliver and her oxygen is very low “ I added .
“ Let’s take her to the OT. “
Things went so fast and we put her a wheel chair and rushed her to the small operating theater. I assisted in her delivery along with another nurse.
I remember working at the maternity department for two years . I was glad I took that experience it helped me now.
“ It’s a baby boy .” the doctor said . “ The mother lost a lot of blood but she will be just fine .”
The mother was stable and the baby was so lovely . And the end we washed our hands and they took the mother to something which looked more like a ward and they will monitor her for tonight . As we went outside , we met the husband and he seemed so grateful and thanked us a lot. He then escorted his wife.
I was on my way out but that young doctor kept asking me question about when , why and where am I . Until he knew that am the new nurse and that Dr. Paul brought this afternoon .
“ So , what’s your name ? “ he asked interrogatingly .
“ Am Nora .. “ I replied.
“ And you can call me Matt .. short for Mathew “
“ Nice to meet you Matt “
Then we were interrupted by the only face I knew .
“ I thought you are at the house relaxing or you are that hurry to work . “ he said
“ Ah ! that is a long story , but I guess I was bored of staying alone and thought of being useful “ I replied.
“ Welcome to the Hope Hospital Nora “ he smiled and went on for the place was crowded with patients.
I spend my first evening at the hospital. Treating the kids and the injured . Helping the doctors to get their work done. And we had done easily because we all worked together in a great team work. It was tiring but you wouldn’t even think of it that way . I was ready to work for whole two days without a stop . Many kids were coming for their vaccination others for their injured wounds and bleeding . It was so busy but as the sun was setting it was getting darker and we were almost done with all the patients . Candles were lighted . And that was how the first day of work ended . Some of the staff had to stay for the night shift to watch over the patients. Other will be going to our place to get some sleep .
Dr. Paul , who I assumed was the head of the Hospital . Thanked everyone and said
“It’s time for us to eat something and relax, but before we go I would like to welcome a new member in our team , Nora Ali a new nurse. She came all the way from Kuwait and she will stay with us for couple months . “
Everyone smiled and welcomed me so friendly.
“ Today we have grown 200 flowers and lost 30 . Tomorrow is another day so let’s try to be better and save more lives . See you all tomorrow .’ He added
I knew he referred the flowers with the number of patients they save. We had dinner and then went to our rooms , I wanted to sleep but couldn’t so I took out my diary book and wrote how things went with me in the first day of my arrival. We try to save the lives and we try to give them another life other than what they might go through. It’s the brave who will stand over all the hardships of times . There are times when slight things as breathe and water counts .
I sat for a while awake and then got Shakespeare Sonnets and my eyes fell on the following lines:When I do count the clock that tells the time, And see the brave day sunk in hideous night; When I behold the violet past prime, And sable curls, all silvered o’er with white; When lofty trees I see barren of leaves, Which erst from heat did canopy the herd, And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves, Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard, Then of thy beauty do I question make, That thou among the wastes of time must go, Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake And die as fast as they see others grow; And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.