Life was pretty good until one fine day, in my third trimester, I landed up in the government hospital. It was a medical emergency. Having always lived a comfortable, blessed life, the exposure to a government-run hospital was very unpleasant for me.
Toilet floors were all the time flooded with faeces and sanitary pads. Patients had to wade through this filth to reach the toilet seat. Often, there were two-three patients in labor cramped on a single narrow bed. At times, there was emergency delivery right there in the washroom. These harsh realities were difficult to witness during my 45-day stay in the hospital.
When i delivered my baby by a C-section, they kept her in the NICU which was on the top floor above mine. When I gained a little strength I had to go to feed her after every two hours. Being claustrophobic, I found it difficult to take the elevator. So with a hurting tummy, I had to climb the stairs after every two hours all day and all night.
The way to the NICU was deserted. It was a very long and large passage with few flickering lights. On its either side were huge trees whose creepy shadows danced on the passage floor and the rustling leaves gave a spooky cry. I would continually turn behind to check if someone followed me. When I would reach the top floor I had to hop on people sleeping outside the nicu. They fully covered themselves with blankets, to avoid mosquito bites; which made them look like corpses in the dark. This was indeed not a pleasant thing to see at the scary hours of the night.
One night after feeding my baby at 12 am, I reached back to my ward at around 12:30. I set the alarm for the next feed at 2 o’clock. I was so fatigued with the surgery, with the climbing of stairs and with all the other health complications that I went into a deep sleep. Sometime later, I felt someone hitting on my leg. Initially, I ignored it, but when the strike increased, I struggled to wake up. It was silent and pretty dark, with just a dim bulb glowing in the huge ward. I rubbed my eyes and tried to figure-out who it was; I was still in a drowsy state.
With a sleepy vision, I saw a wage bulky figure clad in white robes. She was carrying a long stick in her hand and was hitting my leg with it. I struggled to open my eyes more and sat on the bed holding my hurting tummy. I could now see her face. A plump face just like a full moon poster in some horror movie. Her deep red eyes pierced into mine. Her bulky form shimmered awkwardly in the horror of the dark.
When I was out of my sleep and was fully awake, I realized what was happening. She was the ward nurse on night duty, waking me up with a long stick- Her mighty weapon to frighten the patients.
She further terrorized me in the peak silence of the ward, “You are sleeping!” She yelled “who will feed your baby” her teeth clenched just like a vampire hunting for some warm blood. She was extremely angry; not because my baby was hungry but because she had got a call from the nicu that I had still not reached and the nurses had to attend to my baby in my absence. Their sleep was disturbed. And also because this particular nurse had to get up from her sleep to wake me up. Maybe they all forgot, they were on night duty.
I checked the watch it was 3:30 I was late. Till then my mother who would sleep on the floor woke up. I picked up my bag and ran toward the nicu holding my recently operated tummy. When I reached the nicu I saw my baby relaxed in the cradle. I was relieved.
I always remember the bulky figure I saw in the dark hours . I understand she was an aged lady. Maybe she had her own issues and I understand that it is not a pleasant thing to work with sick people every day. I fully understand her problem. And though I don’t feel bad about the way she woke me up; I feel that she could have been a little compassionate; especially to the patient who was admitted for a long period in the hospital with many severe health complications.
And this comes to the end of my not-so-pleasant midnight experience at one of the oldest medical college in Asia
image: Annie Spratt, Unsplash