I was feeling tired and worn out today, So I did something that I haven’t done for a very long time. After the sun was down, I took a chair and sat in the backyard. The weather was indescribable, but I will try. It was beautiful, sweet, and was densely full of memories. Memories of home and of the good old days. The sky was full of clouds, but the moon shined through. It lit up my heart and eased my weariness. How can we ever abandon such beauty . I think observing nature and the greatness of god’s creation is the best therapy and medicine to all wounds. Oh, I forgot to mention the little flies that lights up. I really do not know what they are called in English, but they are brilliant. These little delightful creatures presented me with the best light dances on earth. Then came a frog and scared me away. I have not see one in ages. Frogs are not my favorite creatures, but this one made me laugh. It just stood there staring at me for a while and changed its direction away from my chair.
Well, now I feel good. I will go back inside, drink some tea with the family, and watch the world through the television set.
The two places I dislike the most are immigration offices and hospitals/ER. I have plenty of reasons to not like these two places – immigration officials are the least competent people on the planet when it comes to the job. Hospitals? Well, they’re in a completely different category for me. Coming from a society where the roles of men and women are very distinct, Western countries force someone like me to an extreme position when translating for family members and fellow Somalis who don’t speak English in places like at the doctor’s office. I always dread it specially when it’s my mom.
Doctors really don’t care about the awkward role-reversal situation because their objective is to get as much information as possible from their patients and they certainly don’t hold any punches when it comes to feminine “situations.” On Thursday, I found myself sitting in front of a doctor, answering questions about my mom’s very, very personal feminine “situations.” I don’t even know how to write it without feeling nausea. But for the doctor, it was the most natural question to ask a twenty-something son what is his mom’s “period” is like. “Ask her to describe it” was his follow up questions in various rephrasings. After four questions about this topic back and forth, it was on to questions about the stool. ‘Nough said.
However, at least in this case, my mom knew the drill – I’ve asked her those questions before at a docot’s. But once in a while I translate for someone that I barely know who sometimes has only been to a doctor a handful of times, mostly with female doctors. It is deeply embarrassing for a traditional Somali woman to talk about her feminine situation with two strange men in a 11×11′ room. So it is up to me to make her comfortable by rephrasing or innuendoing the questions, which of course takes even longer time but why can’t the doctors be more sensitive to their patients? It is baffling on so many level for doctors to spend more than a decade of their lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars perfecting their human anatomy knowledge yet can’t manage to sense the most visible uncomfortable expressions on their patients . Or what questions to ask less directly. It reminds me of The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down. Sad.
Another year, another anniversary and millions of people around the world continue to suffer and die from HIV/AIDS. Small good news emerged this year: “UNAIDS now says 32.7 million people were living with the virus in 2006 – nearly seven million fewer than previously estimated” (Voice of America). Some researchers now believe the number of people affected by AIDS/HIV are actually blown out of proportion. Still, we shouldn’t stop or slow down the fight against this merciless disease.
Let us continue the fight against this deadly disease in whichever way we can. Let us remember all those people who are affected by this terrible disease.
World AIDS Day, 2008.