23 September 2011

Quel Cadeau!

Fifteen minutes after noon today I was rushing down the hallway between the OR and my office, late for two out-patient appointments.  'Madame!!  Madame!!!' a woman shouted at me from an overflow mattress on the floor.  This is a normal occurrence for me.  Often the family members of patients assume that I'm a physician and ask me to stop and check up on their loved one or to ask for medication.  It usually takes a while to convince them that I'm neither a doctor nor a nurse and I cannot provide the help they are looking for.

I almost didn't turn around, since I was running late, but she kept calling, so I stopped.  She jumped up from the mattress where her sick baby was sleeping and came with a torn-up dirty white sack.
She started quickly chatting away in Hausa, pointing to my office then towards the mattress on the floor outside of my office, then at me.  I told her I didn't understand.

'Wovain owqig ka vlajviwjg klvlak viaj v jlk valkvoiwj kf vnlv mcnvoei nv,xnkunbf,j  anvoiw w249j v.kz  lvandslg kjvoijsv knvn3 .kz nlksbkajg lkn noirna kgbjrbalinva knwbalvknpcijboienx; iopoaien bqin opisn qpobi  sdnb ck aoin vlk winv kwi' she said again, holding the sack out toward me.

I stared at her blankly.  

'Wovain owqig ka vlajviwjg klvlak viaj v jlk valkvoiwj kf vnlv mcnvoei nv,xnkunbf,j  anvoiw w249j v.kz  lvandslg kjvoijsv knvn3' she repeated.  

'Ban gani ba.  Sannu.' (I don't understand, sorry) I said.

Just then a nurse walked by.  I grabbed him to come and help. 

When she finished what she had to say he turned to me and smiled.  'She has a gift for you, from the woman who with the baby on that mattress up there.  They went home this morning, but she left the gift with this woman.  It's because you've been helping all those children walk.'
I didn't know what to do.  So I thanked her and took the bag.

Inside were about a dozen dirt covered long roots . . . they look like yams that have been play-dough-rolled into skinny logs.  

I felt overwhelmed by her generosity.  This was a woman I passed everyday all week.  We would greet one another, and at times she would stand in the doorway and watch the kids play, I mean, have therapy.    But I did nothing for her child.  He had malaria.  There was nothing I could do for him as an OT.  Yet, that didn't matter to this momma.  She had the means, and therefore she was saying 'Mun godé' (we are thankful) on behalf of the mothers and fathers of the children I do treat.

It was a simple gift . . . but a treasured one.


unknown said...

How generous... a whole family could nourish themselves from those roots.
If it is what I think it is.... if you peel them and then fry them in oil they are delicious !!!!! 

Anon said...

How wonderful! Despite cultural barriers, she could see your gift of love...and wanted to reciprocate.

The bottle smasher said...

Wow, I have a glimpse into how much such a gift is worth here Deb. So very, very precious! May such a memory sustain you through many a dark time.

Deb. said...

I know, right!! I couldn't believe it when she handed it to me . . . but I confess, I 're-gifted' it and gave a few to the families of four of the kiddos I treat, two of which I know ran out of money a while ago. I had planned to give away most and keep a little to try it . . . but how do you smile at hungry children, then walk away? (absolutely LOVING your 'name' by the way!!!)