Two days ago I had this rare chance of visiting a community hospital near my birth place. I went to this “far flung” community to see patients admitted at an 18 bed primary hospital, the only one within in a 20km radius in that area. Many had reservations going to this place. A few doctors were brave enough to serve this community despite constant threat of being abducted or god knows what.
Anyhow this community is significant to me because of its proximity to where I was born and where my family previously lived. Just about a few kilometers from our previous, memorable home. My parents both worked at a big corporation previously operating north of this community. Both migrants to this place, this is where they met and fell in love with each. Three of my siblings were born here. I was born here. I grew most of my formative years in this relatively serene and laid back far flung community. My family built memories here. When my dad passed away and the company pulled out of the community because of the worsening peace and order, we left the place too and settled here in our present area. Since then I never had a chance of coming back to this community, to even gaze at my birthplace, to even walk at the staircase of our former house, or maybe swim again at the duck pool, or climb that santol (tamarind) tree.
On our way to this community hospital, I rekindled familiarity with the road, of the lush green rice paddies alongside, those white herons on water buffaloes’ back, and that smiling townsfolk half submerged in mud paddies trying to catch some catfish. I saw all of them again and for a moment I am happy. I wanted to take out my camera and take photos but I hesitated wanting to enjoy the moment rather than fiddle with a gadget. So close to home. So close.
At the hospital I examined patients at the same time exchanged jokes and stories with some of them. I used to understand and speak their language but now, I can only understand common phrases and blabber “yes” and “no” in their dialect. One patient even joked “our doctor now is kind of a joker” in their dialect to which everyone in the ward was laughing. Strange, but I felt a strong feeling of commonality with them.
I went there as a physician more than an orthopedic specialist and I saw diseases that were epidemic in far flung communities – water and food borne disease as well as animal transmitted diseases. It reminded me of my community internship in one far flung province somewhere north. But this is close to home and admittingly, close to my heart. Many would find me reckless and bold to go there despite the risks, and even I was surprised It turned out to be a pleasant and heart warming visit, but some things are never meant to be understood or left to calculating risks. I cannot answer why I did it. I just felt doing it.
Will I do it again? Who knows. Maybe in another opportune time. When I could go even closer to home…