Monday, July 21, 2008

The Nurse

She was Vietnamese, about my age (23), and very pretty. She was my nurse.

Trishatur had brought me to the emergency room the night before. After waiting more than six hours without being admitted, I had barged past the triage nurse in agony and was immediately shown a bed and administered an I.V.

A short time later, the emergency room doctor told me that I appeared to be suffering from appendicitis. An operating room was being prepared for me, he said, and would be ready in an hour or so.

A few hours later, the prospective surgeon appeared at my bedside. I told him I wasn't feeling any better, but neither was I feeling any worse. He suggested that we hold off on the surgery and reassess in a few hours. By midday, I was feeling slightly better and had been moved out of the emergency room.

Some of my friends had visited me, including at least one of the "Annam Brahma" girls (I can't remember whether it was Nishtha, Pranika, or Shephali -- all of whom I have fond memories of and held in high regard). Apparently, Guru (who was in Seoul for the Olympics) had been told of my predicament and said that I'd be fine. I should drink green coconut water, he'd said.

The girls had brought some coconut water with them. They also brought along a large framed photo of Guru, which they set up next to my hospital bed. It made me uncomfortable for two reasons. First, while I'd never hid my discipleship or the fact that Guru was my master, I could not practice in public. Spirituality, I felt intuitively, was not something that should be worn on one's shirtsleeve. Meditation is best practiced in secret.

Second, and more importantly considering the disappearance of my psychic inspiration, I didn't want to have to explain the picture to the nurse, the one I had become smitten with. I was in the hospital for three days before being discharged without surgery. During that time, my nurse seemed to spend more and more time in my room. We chatted about small things and it was thrilling.

On the morning of my third day, a janitor came into my room and seemed surprised to see me. "I think you've been discharged," she said. Sure enough, I had been, but no one had bothered to tell me. From the beginning, it had seemed that since I had had no medical insurance, the hospital wasn't all that excited about sinking time into my care. Thus, the unceremonious discharge.

I called my close friend, Tejiyan, and he came and picked me up. I left a flowering plant that someone had given me for my nurse-friend. A couple of months later, I was jogging down 150th Street towards the Grand Central Parkway when I saw her standing at a bus stop on the other side of the street.

Excited as I had been to see her, I was emotionally paralyzed. I kept right on running down 150th Street hoping to have a girlfriend of my own some day.

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