an is the living irony standing in the midst of the atmosphere of chaos inside the children’s ward at one of the public children’s hospitals at the metro. she is the calm among the wailing, the crying, the shouting, the cursing, the hollers, and the diverse assembly of noise coming from the deepest of human sorrows, pains, frustrations, fears and anxieties.
she only creates sounds on rare occasions. she rarely speaks. she can barely move her mouth. her physical condition deprives her of the free ability to articulate her thoughts and her feelings. on her face you can see lumps of different shapes and sizes mushroom everywhere, dominating most of the spaces that used to be the area surrounding her eyes, her ears, her nose and her mouth. from her neck down to her feet, there are smaller lumps, scalded skin, and swollen muscles. her back rests on two pillows clothed in off-white hospital pillow cases. her mouth rarely moves, but her eyes serve as a pair of wells that communicates her emotions. she makes minimal movements but you can tell from her eyes the innocence of her questioning looks, the curiosity, the happiness, the sadness, the contentment as well as all the other mixed breed of emotions populating her face in the form of tiny fragile diamond beads that break into smaller pieces upon contact to any part of her body.
like any other patient admitted at the hospital, an is accompanied by her parents. her mom sits on a nearby monoblock chair a couple of steps away from her bed. her dad walks back and forth the room to the window closest to her bed. they rarely make any physical contact with an. not if they can avoid it. probably their closest and most intimate encounter with their daughter is when they both grab her on the arms and continuously shake her to control her from crying. they shake her as if hoping to shake all the beads of tears off her eyes. this particular scenario greets a close friend, nurse nene.
the moment nurse nene see an cradled by her hospital bed, she experiences the sudden urge to move her- away from her parents, far from the shackles of her physical condition, but she can’t. aside from her position and assignment that hinders her from helping an (she is assigned to a different patient, same room with an), the parents, which both possess the eyes of cerberus, carefully guards the perimeter of their daughter’s bed despite wearing faces of disgust and angst.
nurse nene can only decipher much of what the eyes of an are saying. sometimes, nurse nene will tell the fellow-nurse assigned to an to help the patient and to ask the parents to avoid hurting their daughter but the nurse-in-charge for an is already stifled with fear form the piercing eyes of the cerberus couple.
one day, nurse nene overhears the parents arguing with the nurse-in-charge assigned for an. the father insists that they have no more money to spare to sustain the medication for their daughter. armed with bloody red eyes and a an aura of fury, he throws a fit, bathing the nurse-in-charge with fear, sending her out of the room in a heartbeat.
from what nurse nene gathers, an’s parents often quarrel about money and who should take responsibility of their physically challenged daughter. a day at the hospital will never be complete for an without hearing the countless blames and shouts from her parents. most of the time, nurse nene hears the parents’ arguing about their regrets, their life, their poverty, yada yada yada, bounce back and forth the flaking whitewashed walls of the hospital. pity those people filled with rants, thought nurse nene. poor an having her ears exposed to the constant flow of rants from her parents.
the fragile little patient who rarely moves and talk and shares the not-so-big hospital room, sans with proper air conditioning and ventilation, with 5 other patients of different diagnosed conditions, appears as if life slowly escape her body through her few remaining open spaces. the only evident flicker of life from her are her constant blinking and her occasional crying. sometimes, nurse nene would see the sides of her mouth twitch, giving the impression of a smile. an is a fighter, nurse nene remarks. she must survive.
the following the day the nurse-in-charge returns. this time, with the medication needed for an’s treatment. nurse nene sees how an’s parents bully the nurse-in-charge saying that they do not need the medication and that they have no money for that. the nurse-in-charge argues with them. there is a budding uproar in the room. things happen as if all the other noise of the hospital are instantly muted. there are shouts, yes. tears well up an’s eyes. the mother blames an for their misfortunes. the dad lifts a hand over an’s lump-filled puffy face. the nurse-in-charge stands at the middle ground. and with that, a swish of an arm decorated with monochromatic tattoos, sends an’s medication flying to the wall. crash. and the natural environment of chaos soon returns to the hospital. everybody went back to their own businesses. nurse nene is showered with shock, devastated. she feels like crying but she cannot. she is a public servant who must master her emotions. she sets off to work to treat her other patients.
the anger and the indifference of an’s parents kills her faster than her physical condition. the resident doctors of the hospital says that an could still live for 2 years- 2 more long years of hearing the rants and the rage of her parents.
emergency calls nurse nene’s help to the other rooms of the hospital. for the whole day, the thought of an enduring the wrath of her parents does not escape nurse nene. she utters a short prayer for the eight year old kid.
the following day, an exceptional calm greeted nurse nene upon her entrance to an’s hospital room.
there are no wailing, no crying, no shouting, no cursing, no hollers. there is a congregation of silence. nurse nene stops halfway to the room when she see an’s bed empty. the guards of the underworld are also absent. the sheets are replaced, the pillows tucked right to their place. before nurse nene could open her mouth to ask questions to the other people around, a faint sob breaks the wall of silence. an was ushered to the underworld hours ago. nurse nene is late to say her goodbyes. people at the room say they heard the parents say “buti nga!” (good for her) right after an’s last breath escapes her.