It didn’t start hilariously, but since I know the poor little guy is okay, we’re going to share the laughter.
We were in the studio when Mong Ey came right up to the window screaming. A little boy that we took to the clinic last week was in his house and screaming uncontrollably. He had a sore leg last week, but now his chest was hurting and he was struggling to breathe. The room was completely in panic–there were about fifteen people in the little hut. His aunt was holding him as he screamed, with tears running down her cheek. His uncle was behind her, his grandmother sitting there; a few neighbor ladies and men. His sister and cousin looked on in confusion; Mong Ey looked stressed as we shouted and attempted to communicate over the chaos.
It was pretty clear we needed to go to the hospital, because I knew nothing of what to do. Stephen went off for the car and we were on our way quickly. Amidst the darkness, rain, and continued screaming, quite a few people climbed into the car. We just were trying to get there, afraid he’d stop breathing.
We unloaded him onto to a stretcher in the emergency area; his uncle went back with him while a few of us went to the check-in area to fill out forms. It was here I learned who his father was. He came with Mong Ey & I to fill out the information, but we were having trouble communicating. He kept telling me he was his father and that he was thankful. Over and over and over again.
We went back to sit down, and it was here that we noticed what a crew we were. We were just now sorting out who was who. We had his father with us, who was fairly drunk. I figured this out when he shoved his head into the square-foot check-in window alongside mine, where I could smell the alcohol and sense his lack of awareness. In an attempt to mask the odor, someone ran across the street to get him some gum, but it wasn’t really helping. He was wearing a mis-buttoned button up, a longyi, and no shoes. He sat very close to us and kept calling me “Shelly.”
We had this conversation about eighteen times as we shook hands:
“Shelly, Stephen. I father. Shelly, Stephen. Thank you. Thank you.”
We also had a grandmother with us, an aunt, an uncle, and a translator. When the uncle came out, I saw that he had on an Aung San & Aung San Suu Kyi shirt, a longyi, and no shoes. He could not look more Burmese. The aunt was wearing a plastic bag on her head, a common practice in the rain, but mostly among Burmese. Basically, we just didn’t look like a completely legal group.
They received a phone call from another aunt at home, quite panicked. Her screaming on the phone could be heard at least ten feet away, if not much further.
Meanwhile, our translator was quite nervous. She hates the hospital and is always afraid of being arrested; I think she really only came because she knew the father was quite drunk. At one point when a traffic cop blew his whistle to help someone park, she latched on to my arm and desperately dug her nails into me.
At the end of the day, the boy had his leg wrapped, and he’ll be going back tomorrow to get a harder cast. Within a coupe of hours we headed home with pain medicine and Stephen & I laughing at the escapade.