Deep in my heart I know this day will soon come. The day when my strength failed, and my body worn down to the bone. Juggling between different jobs and caring for countless of homeless animals aside from more than 15 cats in my own home required some kind of super human strength, and it is God’s hand only that I survived that way for three and a half years.
Even so, I have never thought that it would be coming yesterday. My head spin, and I have difficulties staying awake, so I call my boss and ask for a leave. I was going to go home to catch some Zs I have been depriving myself of these past two weeks, and when I am back on my feet, will spend some time to finish my long forsaken schedule in finishing my website.
Alas, I took a flight down the stair, and the usually quiet and mind-own-business office gone chaotic. Within a few minutes a car was set and I was rushed to the hospital. The doctor recognize me and ordered that I stayed hospitalized for at least a week to see if my liver had gone back swollen like last time.
Well, not again. I have a ton of stray cats and dogs waiting for me on the street, and considering the stormy weather these last 6 months, the smaller ones won’t even have a chance if I stop even for one night.
So I turn my creativity on and wait for the next visiting hour to drag my iv into the toilet, and took the needle off my vein. I put my own clothing back on, and slip out of the toilet like a normal visitor, and put myself in the next herd of leaving guests. I turn to the cashier, pay my fees, and go home with a bus.
Sounds like some thriller movie scene? Well, what do you expect of a detective novels addict? Besides, I am not going to pay yet another million to sleep uselessly in the hospital while animals are dying on the streets every second passed.
Naturally no one will ask when I don’t show up in the office the next day. They all think that I am sleeping soundly in the hospital again ( I went to the hospital twice before) while I am going round the bank taking care of my stolen wallet, but that’s another story.
Besides, my short, cheap stunt has nothing to do with this post. What I wanted to share is my experience during the three hours I spend in the ER.
I was curious about the noises and cries from across my room that I peeked out of my bed, and saw three men been dragged in.
They are typical Bandung youngsters, with skinny pants taken down to the hip, so their underwear (or in most case, their black, smelly butt) will show when they bend down, goth styled T-shirt, and messy hairdo. It’s a mix of Kanye West and Punk Goth rock band that haven’t taken a bath for a year.
Looking at their burnt legs and arms, I first thought they got into accident while mixing alcoholic drink or drug (some times into toxic drink that killed the entire gang), or getting into traffic accident while strutting their home-made Harley Davidson. Unfortunately, however, both guesses were wrong.
Soon after they were brought in, a herd of doctors swarmed in with their pack of nurses and all sort of equipment, and their shirt been torn, and their heart examined, and one minute later I heard
“Number eight’s gone!” and the pack that previously handled him dispersed and divided themselves to handle the other two. It happened automatically within a minute, that I was in shock of how such emotional moment can be handled like a lifeless routine.
It sank in almost immediately to me that the man has died, and my curiosity was further drawn to the other two. One has troubled heart, the other has slim chance of life.
One of the girls who brought them into the hospital sobs right next to me, not realizing that the bed next to her has someone sitting on it. She was all red that I didn’t want to interrupt her river of tears, until the nurse who handle me came by and handed me over a pack of pills. “You should be laying down instead of snooping, lady” he warned.
“What happened? I nod at the three rows of bed across mine, not heeding his order.
“Working on electricity, and got shocked”
“All three of them?”
“Yes, well, people here are stupid. When someone got shocked, the other tried to tug them and got shocked themselves”
I stay quiet, but talking about stupid, most people here are, and death like that is probably just a routine after all.
Maybe because of the cultural laziness of the Sundanese, maybe because education is not more important than looks and girls, maybe because of the economy, maybe because teachers here got paid so low that they succumb to corruption and care more of seeking additional sources of money than making better generation, discussing about whys can go on forever, but the sad fact is, despite living in a beautiful and fertile terrain labeled as “Paris Van Java” (yep, including the pretty and easily-taken girls), people’s live here is not as pretty as it is said in the tourism brochures or government’s websites.
If you got chance to come and visit Bandung one day, you will see people hanging on electricity pole only with rubber boots, if not rubber sandals that you would wear to the beach. You will see young guys mending air conditioner with shorts and tee, as if you would go surfing. You will see people digging holes on the street using helmet, but with bare foot and most of the time, bare chest.
I don’t know if they do it so they would look sexy in the eyes of the girls, just like some of those perfume advertisement, but sometimes they just don’t wear protection because they think it hinders them from performing their task at best. Sometimes they think fixing electricity is as easy as pie, hence bare-handedly climb a bamboo ladder onto their roof and bravely peel off those big cables and stole electricity for their houses or hijack their richer neighbor’s satellite TV in the hope they can peek on some of those HBOs without pay.
I don’t know if they just don’t care, but people here go to Senior High School to laid or got laid by the first attractive opposite sex and those who got more money done that on college, drop school, got married, and have their parents pay for their household, and think of landing on any pitiful job only when they got babies and their parents had no more means to support them financially. That is, if one of the couple hadn’t run away already.
I don’t know if they realized that they would left their widow and children begging on the street if they died, because woman here is just like queen bee. They only want to stay at home, sleep, and bare children because being a career woman is a very tough thing to do.
But people do lost their lives doing those stupid things, and what I just saw is just a number among continuous column in a local newspaper that got skipped and especially skipped when Manchester United is playing because they (and most of them are young and poor and want easy and fast cash) bet on the match.
When I sneaked out of the hospital, I saw a rich lady coming toward them with worry hanging on her face, and I immediately feel pity on her, because I can imagine she would have to bare the loathing and swearing of the new widow and the family of the dead man, sometimes even people that has nothing to do with the case or the victim.
It’s automatic. Here in Bandung, rich people are almost always the villain, because they are richer, they got better education, they get better means of life, and therefore, bear the biggest responsibility of everything.
It’s probably never occurred that those richer people got their riches because they go to school and finish it, they done their homework, and they refuse to surrender to their lazier self, and therefore, it is not their fault that they got better off than their peers.
It’s probably never occurred that those richer people didn’t get to their millions like dry leaves fall down from a tree, and it’s probably never occurred that richer people do advices, teaches, and equips, but regarded only as a passing wind by their workers.
What people know is pointing finger to those that are more able, without any inquisitiveness to look further.
And what men do to their own kind, they do it worse to the (said) lesser creatures.
So when a tree got tampered by the wind and fall down and create a traffic jam, other trees along the road will be cut down, while the actual cause is people burning their trash under the tree and kill its root. When little kids throw rocks to a dog, and the dog bites, people will bring their whatever weapon to the house of the dog, and demand that the owner kill the dog or the entire household will be executed, regardless of how mean kids can be. When crazy teens took small kittens from their mother and put them on the road to be crushed by passing vehicles they are forgiven because it is the obligation of the vehicle owner (who is richer than those kids, who went to places on foot) to care where they are going. When a horse carriage was overloaded and the horse could not carry it as fast as the owner wanted it, the horse was repeatedly hit by the back of a sword until it died miserably at the side of the street, and when I prevent anyone to be cruel to animals, it is my fault (who has a job, more money, and better social status than those abusers) and therefore they are justified to try to gang-rape or at least beat me up and teach me some lesson to first pay regard to the poorer side of humanity than the animals.
They should have learned that I am a Wushu world champion, though only the second runner up, but that ability to pay them back and beat them up instead is my fault too.
I don’t know if this city is a true Paris Van Java, a tropical paradise as they say, but I know that there is always another side of the coin, and it is not always as pretty.