She pulled me in from the corridor and held my hand. In a giggley inquisitive and nervous voice, she whispered
“Vavavka?” I replied,
“alright ….tsara, alafa, vavaka!”
We walked hand in hand in to the pop-up 24/7 prayer room. It becomes busy at this time of year as we pack away our floating hospital and the last few dwindling patients are hanging around, waiting for their wounds to heal. Then it’s home. Back to what they know. Back to their life.
I was on my way to the ice machine on deck three. I needed coffee. It was 10pm and the office was warm. Iced coffee is the way forward with dysfunctional air conditioning in a tin ship that resides in the warm bath tub that is Africa’s coast line.
To be honest, a patients interruption is always a welcomed disruption to my day. Whether it’s my little friend with one eye and a scarred face who yells big lemur down the corridor as I sneek off, or whether its an impromptu tennis game with electric fly squatters and balloons. Regardless of the reason, it’s beautiful and this young girls call to prayer was welcomed.
And so off we went in to the tent of constant prayer. On the wall, carefully stuck with blue tack are the communities petitions, longings and desperate pleas to God. She points to her name, someone must have shown her which card is hers and she can’t read,
She asks me to pray for her. I nod in agreement and I ask if a can pray in English. She says yes. That’s good.
I can’t pray in any other language.
I bow my head…
The girl before me is 12 years of age (probably).
She has had her jaw wired shut for 6 weeks post mandibular fracture. She mumbles words through metal and eats through a straw.
I’m prettty sure that as affective as the measure is anatomically, its a far better form of torture. They use it in the west still to this day, but for obesity and to physically stop people from eating solid food. Interesting.
The girl came with a man. A man who says he was her father. Then her brother. Then her uncle. Then you start to wonder. He is more likely to be her husband. If the ever changing story doesn’t lead you there then the culture of their area will.
No children yet, so probably no period and to young to bear a child.
Her husband is abusive towards her.
Her jaw is wired shut.
How do you pray for that?
I was just going to get ice.