Monday, December 10, 2007

First Christmas Card

When the first Christmas card for the season arrives you know it’s getting closer. This year the first card to reach us was a rather special one. I, like so man other people, have a list (on my PC of course) of cards received and sent. People who fail three years in a row will be struck off our outgoing list. Then again you might forgive some people an oversight due to age or illness for instance. People lose your address, although I always put our address on the back, but there might be other acceptable reasons for failing to send a card.

Our first card this year came from somebody, from whom we did not get any card last year, and with whom we have no other contact. In this case I feared he was no longer with us, and I will tell you why.

Five years ago I was hospitalised for four weeks and next to me on this ward was an elderly gentleman who had been there for some time when I was admitted, and who was there for some time after I had been discharged. We were both seriously ill but I was going through some testing and he was waiting for a certain procedure to which there was a long waiting list. He had to stay in hospital not to get pushed down the list into another category. You have heard of the British NHS (National Health Service) I guess. It has not exactly got a reputation for speed and efficiency, to put it mildly.

Both he and I had soon slid into this institutionalised state of mind, living by the hospital routines and procedures. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon coffee, dinner and visitors – day in, day out. I soon got tired of the hospital food, which might not surprise you, but there was a break in the pattern when Devi, my bed neighbour, offered me some of his food that his family had brought him. He and his family are Sikh and were among the people whom Idi Amin expelled from Uganda many years ago. They regularly brought spicy and interesting food and were all very friendly, his wife, his adult children and other relatives. They always had a little chat with me and Mrs S if she was there, before sitting down by Devi’s bed. Often the women were dressed in traditional, colourful Indian dresses, brightening up the whole ward. Devi’s daughter even flirted with me in the presence of Mrs S! I was flattered.

We heard from the nurses on the ward, when we came to visit Devi after I had been discharged, that he had left the previous day. We never had the opportunity to take up his offer of visiting them since we moved to Germany shortly afterwards, but we kept up our exchange of Christmas cards.

Last year we feared Devi was no longer with us since we did not get the customary card. I had even been thinking about writing to inquire about his health. So to get this card as the first of the season was a wonderful moment. For a non-religious person to get a Christmas card from a person of the Sikh faith is perhaps unusual, but this one in particular certainly warmed my soul. Call me sentimental if you like, I don’t care!

1 comment:

Eric Valentine said...

That was a nice interesting post Swen, very enjoyable reading.

I remember the NHS, briefly and now being in Canada, I have to say over here isn't much of an improvement. :)

I do hope both you and your friend Devi, are well and stay that way ~ After all, there is nothing wrong with a little bit of sentimentality my friend.

A very Merry Christmas to you & Mrs S. :)