- Posted August 21, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
The Girl of My Dreams
(Dedicated to the victims of Boston and Peshawar bombings)
The year was 1988. I had just finished medical school and was into the first few weeks of residency at a government hospital in Lahore, Pakistan.
It was an afternoon. As luck would have it, I was covering some doctors and in effect by myself in the ward. These were the days before the cell phones and beepers. Usually a landline phone, if working, or person to person contact, was the way to communicate.
I remember feeling good, confident, in control and why not? I was a physician now, a complete package, the real deal, and in charge of that moment; or so I thought. If only I knew, what was coming.
A ward boy came to the doctor’s office to summon me with some urgency. There was something terribly wrong; I could tell from his looks. In the corridor outside was a small girl, no more than 5 or 6 years old, in the lap of her mother. The girl appeared listless and was crying but in a strange and weak voice. The mother had no clue what had happened. I was soon to realize that neither did I.
It all happened very fast, in a few minutes; minutes which felt like an eternity. As I was frantically trying to come up with some possibilities or solutions, the other staff went around looking for more senior, more experienced doctors. I have to say that out in a corridor some distance from the emergency room, in a race against time, I was hoping against hope that this situation would fix itself.
The girl became quieter and lethargic by the minute. A small crowd of passers-by had formed, and I could feel the weight of their expectations. I tried listening to her breath sounds, in this by now, a noisy and panicky situation and could not tell. The bookish strength of my diagnosis and management had long vanished, and I felt just as helpless, if not more than this little girl in front of me.
Her pulse was barely palpable. That I did a Heimlich thinking of a foreign body, actually happened or is just a figment of my imagination, I am not sure. In any case, the girl slowed down further and finally died right in front of my eyes, still in her mother’s lap. That was the end of it for her and a rude awakening for me. Her cause of death could not be ascertained. It was the first person I ever saw dying, a child and on my watch.
This girl, I do not have a name for, lives on, in my mind, my soul and now my writing.
The question I beg to ask all our modern day killers is.
What is in your psyche and how do you live with it?