17 September 2014

No Free Shows in Therapy

When I worked at Temple University Hospital, as I helped my patients don a hospital gown over their bare backsides, I'd tell them that the first rule of therapy was: No Free Shows.

Things are little different here in Galmi.  Bare breasts are no big thing, and the fewer clothes children wear, the less the burden of the laundry load.  Kids come to therapy naked all the time.  And I've even had many older children wear nothing but an open hospital 'gown' as if it were a untied robe.  So it's always a bit surprising when I have a kiddo who is super specific about when he's all covered up.


My pal M. is in the hospital for a chest infection.  He's been hanging out with us for a couple of weeks now, and is super smiley and fantastic, considering he has a huge tube protruding from his left lung.

He's seven.  And spends most of his day sprawled on his hospital bed, stark naked.  He doesn't seem to notice his bareness until it's time to get up and walk.

Each day we go through our ritual of hand shaking, fist bumping, and high fiving . . . as he lays there in the buff.  We chat and greet each other and joke around a bit with the old ladies in the room, all while he is nude.

It doesn't phase him.

But, like clockwork, when I say, 'Okay, let's walk!' he answers with 'Where's my zunni?' and his Granny picks out one and folds in half so it's not too long for his miniature legs.

Not wanting to disrupt the tube, Granny often hands the zunni to me to wrap around his waist, but then tucks it herself.

Without thinking about it, I pulled the wrap-around tight and tucked it in, as I often do my own skirts.

'Oainvla ksdnla alkv oiwndafk lkv aldskfj lkwjg vlij l!' Granny said.

While my Hausa has come a long way, it still sucks . . . so I had no idea what she said.  So I just went back to tucking.

'Oainvla ksdnla alkv oiwndafk lkv aldskfj lkwjg vlij l!' Granny repeated.

I looked up and smiled, and most likely nodded my head in agreement.

Granny turned to the other little old ladies in the room and said 'Look, she doesn't even know how to tie a zunni!!'

'Of course I do!!!' I shot back, defending my transplanted self.

The other women began mumbling amongst themselves.

'Look, I am wearing a zunni right now!' I said to them, desperately trying to prove that I've at least learned something in the nearly four years I've been here . . . although, I was secretly praying that they wouldn't see the ties in the back holding the whole thing up.

Not wanting to look bad on this one, I confidently lifted M. from his bed and placed him of the floor.

It's amazing how one's pride can come crashing down in a mere split second.

As I released my arms from around his little waist, the zunni that I had so carefully and precisely tied fell to the ground.

M. stood there exposed for all the world to see as I received the biggest I-told-you-so roar of laughter from Granny section.

So much for No Free Shows in Therapy.

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