Not all of us can afford to drink a cup of Starbucks coffee or in any other state-of-the-art coffee shops. Let me qualify this allegory in the story I am about to share.
While waiting for our clinical instructor to arrive in the OPD (Out-Patient Department) recently, we saw a kid, about 12 years old, who was with a lady and two children -- one girl who's about eight years old and a little hyper boy who's about three to four years old. What really caught our attention was the kid, the patient we will call Greg (not his real name).
We noticed seemingly bizarre reactions from the way people were staring at Greg, a mix gestures of horror and sympathy. The sight initially gave us jitters albeit we sympathized with the kid’s predicament.
Ninety percent of Greg’s body had been burned at the highest degree and he had a tube in his trachea. I can’t imagine seeing myself in Greg’s shoes. The story of the kid’s aunt, who narrated the circumstances that brought him in that state, almost broke our hearts.
The aunt wiped the mucous coming out from Greg’s tube while using a pai-pai (native hand fan) to shoo away flies. Greg used to live with his grandfather, father, and cousin. Two other children mentioned earlier were actually his younger siblings. Greg lived with them in a small shanty in Dao, Antique. His mother died of infection after giving birth to her last child. To add to his misery, Greg’s father was stabbed dead on June 28, 2012 in neighborhood violence.
It was on July 18, 2012 when the most horrible tragedy happened in his life. They were sleeping peacefully when a small flame from unknown origin dropped from the ceiling of their shanty. Within minutes, the fire spread, turned into conflagration and became uncontrollable. Greg was trapped and was almost devoured by the inferno. As I was listening to the story from her aunt, I shuddered at the thought he must have agonized worse than trying to survive drowning in the sea or like being consumed by cascading lava.
Greg was the only one who survived. His grandfather and cousin didn't make it and were swallowed by enormous fire. They were burned beyond recognition, it was learned. His two siblings were fortunate they were not around. Teary eyed, his aunt, who is sincerely helping him get through his current situation, mentioned how Greg would always insist in saying he did not want to live with others but only with her.
I will forever remember Greg and his sad story. He inspired me in many ways. God has plans and reasons why it all happened. I wish some of us will realize we are still fortunate. How shallow for some of us to cry or bellyache over silly things, which is not even a shred of pain Greg had experienced after losing his loved ones in horrific fashion. He was brave. Losing a mother at a tender age is very much painful. A 12-year-old kid still needs a mother to make him feel warm and cozy, someone who can give him unconditional love never found in others. Even adults always go back to find a “mother's touch” when in dire straits or when experiencing simple pains. Losing a father at a young age is also unimaginable. A family needs someone to stand as the wall of a home, a padre de pamilya to protect him from harm and teach him how to ride a bike.
We are luckier we can still read blogs and books; we can still own a pair of shoes; we still have parents to pay the bills, provide for our basic needs and protect our shells.
We are still luckier we could stay in bed with proper mattress and pillows to protect our sides; we are luckier we could whine and wail to our parents whenever we wanted certain things or how parents rewarded us with material things that others could not own. We are luckier we could still study and finish our education even if others have dropped out and rebelled. Aren't we so luckier than Greg to be blessed with all the things we have today?
Others might scrutinize and criticize some of the thoughts and circumstances I've listed here; others might swallow their pride and feign ignorance while on the bright-side, characters with open mind will somehow appreciate this story in one way or the other. I wish I have shared my inspiration.