A Plastic Sword
By Roysa Swami
She walked into the dull room and thought of her dream. Had it been a premonition or an epiphany? It did not matter. The same dreams that haunted her in her sleep, would also haunt her while she was awake and alert.
She was responsible for saving lives, but her own was precarious. She knew she had to hold thousands of hands today, and while some made it, others did not. Whatever would happen, she would remember it. All the people she had tried to save, trying to keep her skilled hands from trembling, were somehow filing away in some deep corner of her memory.
She had seen children like her own, their cheeks red and tender. She had seen them smiling before they lost their smile forever.
It was so easy for people to say that the health department was not trying. Only she knew how hard it was; the screams of families, her helplessness, and how she felt each time she felt their hands drop down, as she held them through the plastic. Their hands were of hope, hers were of assurance. But each time a heart stopped, her faith in her skilled hands was attacked.
Every night, she had clandestine meetings with herself, when she asked herself questions she didn’t have answers to. Was she worthy of the trust her patients had in her? A body is a person’s most prized possession. As it is lost, connections are lost, relationships are lost, and a chance to make more memories is taken away. As a heart stops, it takes away many lifelines. Her med school never taught her that she would have to go through all of this. But she knew she couldn’t back out.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of a whisper, awkwardly obstreperous in the hospital’s silence. She looked around and saw no one. She was probably just imagining things. She felt a tug at her hospital suit. She looked down and saw a little boy, possibly four or five, staring at her with his chocolate-brown orbs.
“Didi, are you a doctor?” he asked her. “Yes,” she replied nonchalantly.
“My papa’s in there,” he said, pointing towards the Operation Theatre.
“Ma says,” he continued, “That you have to go and save him from the demons who want to make him a star forever.”
He stretched out his hand, to reveal a plastic sword, probably a children’s toy.
“Mama says I’m too young to fight. But you can fight because you are old enough. Take this sword. Don’t let my papa become…”
“A star?” She smiled and tousled his hair through her plastic gloves.
She bent and said, “I won’t. Your papa will be fine, I promise.”
Saying this, she took the sword from the boy’s young hands.
“Thank you,” the boy smiled. And then without a word, he ran away.
She smiled. For this war, just the fragile toy sword was enough.
As she walked into the liminal lights of the Operation Theatre, she knew that she would win no matter what. She knew she had to continue fighting, and being resilient. She knew thousands who fulminated her and derided her every day. But she had to be resilient for those who believed in her, and knew that only she could make a difference.
“The green expanses appeared blood red to some
To those who were like Cassandra for the ‘yet to come’
They knew one of them would lose their crown
And their grandiloquence would soon drown”