Thursday, May 27, 2010


Before lunch, I went to the MONUC hospital to bring my sick colleague her toothbrush and toothpaste. She was sitting up in bed wearing a kick-ass Metallica tee-shirt, rubbing absent-mindedly at the catheter connected to the peripheral cannula on the back of her hand. She spent the whole of our visit not talking about typhoid or herself at all – but instead asking me questions about my job search and telling me to have more confidence in myself. When she got a phone call from a friend and started chatting in fast Italian with him, I wandered around her cozy little room, out onto her porch, and into the adjoining area, which turned out to be the birthing room. I stood in the middle of the empty not-too-sterile room with the beds with stirrups and plastic glove boxes and took deep breaths, knowing that I was inhaling air that contained the first tiny exhales of new lives, and thinking that that was magical.

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