8.10.06

just wanna shout about it

message in a bottle (開)
design by J

The old lady whose hospital bed is diagonally across Ma J's is a 94 year-old with a hell lot of lung power.

Shrivelled as a burnt out matchstick, she demonstrated her strength by smacking the hand of a visiting granddaughter and push away her grandson, all the while shouting in cantonese 你走!你走!你不要來!(Go away! Go away! You don't come here!). Her voice rang through out the normally silent hospital ward, mocked the barely audible moans of the lady next to her and Ma J's defeated murmurs.

Later, in order to restrain her, the nurses trapped her in an armchair secured with a tray table by the corridor. For the next hour, she shook her the stand that held her drip and shouted to a world immune to her cries: 我要吃煙! 喂,我要吃煙啊!(I want a smoke! Hey, I want a smoke!)

Another old lady who lay in the bed directly across from Ma J was tubed up, feverish and helpless. All through the afternoon her middle-aged daughter sat at the foot of the bed silently reading a yellowed booklet. J told me it was a buddhist sutra. When the old lady suddenly threw up, she sent the woman into a panic.

"Ominah," the daughter shouted and the maid ran out to call for a nurse. Ominah, however, was accousted by the 94 year-old loud hailer in the corridor, her arm in the grip of the old woman's claws. When Ominah finally escaped and returned to the bedside, a nurse was already tending to the patient.

"Ominah, where did you go?" The daughter shouted. "Why you so busybody go look after that Ah Poh? Is she your Ah Poh? Your job is here! You want then I ask that Ah Poh to employ you lah! You have cigarette you give her lah!" The daughter went on and on, her shouts at Ominah took turns with the corridor cries for cigarettes 我要吃煙! 喂,我要吃煙啊!

alter ego

That night, despite the haze, the Taoist temple just round the corner from where we lived went ahead with their plans to burn man-size candles and giant piles of hell-money. The fires blazed as high as the 2nd storey of the nearby flats. As it burnt, the devotees and temple staff shouted in Hokkien "發啊!發啊!發啊!" (Prosper! Prosper! Prosper!), sending their desires with the ashes up to our 15th floor flat.

Of course, it need not be that the louder we shout, the more our words and wishes would be fulfilled or even heard. The audience may be deaf, hardened, powerless - or even absent. Because if he was listening, gracious and able, even the slightest whisper would be answered.

4 comments:

said...

Actually, if someone has lived to over 90 years old as a smoker, i wouldn't deny her a cigarette now.

all those years of damage already done. what's one or a hundred more going to do to her? Might as well let her enjoy...

ampulets said...

agree. still, she can't smoke in the ward...can't really tell what she's ill with. all she seems to me is just old.

today she has gone completely silent. maybe she really needed the cigarette. j said that maybe the nurses gave her a sedative. when we left, they had wheeled her bed out into the corridor where there were the beds of 2 other "mischievous" patients.

said...
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said...

Poor thing. i would have given her a whole pack and taken her outside for a smoke!

but with old people very hard lah... you can't tell them what to do, and what not to do...

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