jeudi 13 octobre 2011
We will always have Paris..Indians need you now
Come rain or shine or snow, like the slogan of the Postal Services of the USA, I have shown my face here in these remote parts of the USA where Indians were relegated to live …
I have seen children in Kindergarten grow up to be adults and sending their children to Kindergarten where I see them… I used to ask, who is your mother? When I visit the schools and talking to the students, now I ask, who is your grandmother?
I have been taught and given an entirely pure perspective on life, I have gained so much from this association, but not without some pain of the knowledge of their suffering, living as they are surrounded by a not very sensitive culture.
The extraordinary result of this association in which I was told to respect and if possible love the Indians, is that my days with them, as their doctor and consultant to them in culturally related health issues, are without any stress. I can honestly say that I have not had a single bad day in the two hundred odd visits to their home countries in many many years.
The structural defects that cloud the minds of the westerner, in the world of commerce and competition, include the idea of oneself being better, an aversion to things taught as being inferior and an attachment to the good life for which they struggle and come back to square one of egoism and self importance. When I am with the Indians, my structural defects of the mind are all suppressed, my ego is low, I watch the world without attachment or aversion and as if I am watching a movie and most importantly Indians have taught me how not to be judgemental.
That does not mean that I am not sensitive to their suffering. They don't like the misery associated with it, while accepting suffering as their lot but nothing prepares you for what you are told and what you witness.
Today is the last day of my cycle of visits to this tribe, the clinic closes at 4 30 and it is now 5 pm and I am leaving the hospital towards the house in the reservation where I stay. I saw a little girl of 11, whom I know well coming towards me and holding up her hand. Her mother who is a patient of mine shadows her.
I have had a bad summer, I should really come and see you and talk about it.
She looked heavier than I remember the last time I saw her sometime at the beginning of the summer.
This has been a bad summer she began and for the next one hour, she told me one by one what had gone wrong.
She has Type 2 Diabetes complicated by severe depression. The last time I had seen her as a patient in the clinic, she had been doing extremely well, working in the garden of the tribe and eating well and also avoiding conflicts at home.
She has a son who had returned from his tour of duty in Iraq and suffers from Posttraumatic stress disorder and makes those around him uncomfortable by his uncontrollable rages. In one of those rages he beat up his younger brother black and blue who needed medical attention. The daughter had to be flown by medical mercy mission to the nearest town when she had hit her head and suffered from amnesia. During this time, her husband of many years was not supportive at all, since he was lost in the fog of alcohol abuse. When her son of school age fell down and suffered concussion, she had decided to look after him at home. During this time she was baby-sitting her relatives children and many a times she couldn't answer the door when someone knocked at the door. One such knock was from the school wanting to know the whereabouts of the boy who should be at school. Soon, it was assumed that she had been drinking (untrue) and the child welfare authorities arrived with a view of taking her children away from her only to find her sober and having not had a drink in many years.
A third son was told to stand upon a chair at school but he slipped and fell down. Minor injury was diagnosed but soon he had to be airlifted to the nearest facility for emergency orthopaedic intervention for his intertrochanteric fracture. She gave up her job and nursed him back to health after he left the hospital with a pin in his hip at the tender age of 11. Thus she was deprived of her livelihood, baby sitting and working in the garden. Her diabetes that had been well controlled now took a turn for the worse.
The stress was not to end there, the son with PTSD went missing and to this day she is not sure where he sleeps and how he feeds himself. Now and then he shows up at the house and then disappears. Her husband had been oblivious to all these and the major burden are handled by her. She is in the process of applying for tribal assistance to commit him for compulsory treatment for alcohol addiction.
The children are watching all these; they present cheerful faces like the girl of now 11 whom I have known for 4 years. Today she was pushed at school and landed with her left palm stopping the fall, and by the looks of the swelling, there is certainly a fracture underneath.
She was stoic, this little girl, while having pain, silently at there. She is well trained I thought, to face a lifetime of suffering and what has she seen so far in her tender years?
I was sitting down and listening to my patient regurgitating her memories, I was being drowned. I told her, just by listening to you, I feel stressed and I am so grateful that my visits to your tribes are without stress so that I can listen to you and while I feel sad, I wont be plastered down to the floor with the helplessness of the situation.
I said to myself, here I was leaving the clinic at 5 pm in a hurry to get home, to catch up on correspondence from various parts of the world, sip a glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, thinking of packing for the up coming trip within a few hours to Paris.
I am so grateful for the love and affection I have, from my friends and my lovers
In Paris from my Little Family
In Miami from my sister and her husband
In Portland from my brothers and their families
In Kuala Lumpur with my friend who has bound me to her heart and her family and the friends she has introduce me to.
In Cuba, ah Cuba, the island of my dreams where I can forever float in the sea of its tentacles of affection and love
I am grateful
Each and every one of you
My friends scattered around the world.
I am homeless because I have more than one home, in the hearts of those who love me.
And here I am in the middle of nowhere in the middle of this country, listening to an Indian with stress levels similar to a Hiroshima bomb of Stress. What am I to do?
By talking itself, she would feel fine. Knowing that we are here for her to talk about her disease and also about her social situation would help her.
I was planning to leave tomorrow morning to drive down a 100 miles to the city where the airport is, having lunch at the Persian resto, to order Jujeh Khoresht
Boneless chicken cooked with garlic, tomato, & shallots in fresh h lemon sauce
Then over the Atlantic, to the seaside town in Brittany, celebrating a tender birthday with champagne and coquille sant Jacques… mm.
I realized that nothing is more important than to take care of the grief and suffering of this lady.
All the while, the little girl had been standing there holding her hand up. I examined and was certain that the push at the school had caused her to fracture her third metacarpal bone. I went with her to the radiology department. Even in this isolation we have technology that allows us to view the images on computer. As they left to go to the Clinic Rooms, I told the mother, I want you to call our Clinic at 10 am, and come over, we can sit and talk and afterwards I want to go to your house and visit the girl who would be home in a plaster or sling.
North American Indians do not profusely thank you since in their culture there are only symbols to thank but not words. She looked at me and I knew what she was feeling in her heart right now.
I, like my father before me, who fought in the jungles of Burma, want to be of assistance to people. My father from the backstreets of Abadan had chosen Burma as his theatre and I a Jewish boy from the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield have chosen American Indians or shall I boldly say, they chose me?
I will arrive in France one day later, but the arrival will still be sweeter for I know, according to the law of the Indians, my little family will be blessed by the Spirits. Then I will go to London to see my sister from Miami who is visiting London.
In a few days time I will repeat the cycle again, this time it would be the Lakota of South Dakota. In December the Traditional Kickapoo of Mexico/Texas…