Part 8 – Sleeping With a Corpse in the Same Room

San Fernando General Hospital. This closely resembles the hospital at the time.

I stalled in writing but had written this earlier when I had started my “spiritual biography”. This is an exert from what I had written.

Heart Murmur

I was 13 years of age and mama took me to the doctor because I would have pain in my legs. The doctor listened to my heart and heard a murmur. He said I possibly had rheumatic fever and that left me with a murmur of the heart. I was sent to the hospital for more specialized doctors to take a look at me. There was no modern tools like now. The doctors only listened with a stethoscope. I was hospitalized for a few days and the heart specialist doctor sent me to a convalescent  home for children where I spent about 6 weeks. I remember my mom crying when she heard the news that I was suffering with a heart murmur and my father was concerned. My whole family was sad.

The Corpse

During my stay at the hospital I had to stay in the cardiac ward and was in the same room with about 10 people(females), and was the only young person there. One day this elderly lady obliquely opposite me died heart failure. I was terrified. They closed her off with curtains but I was scared of her being a ghost and seeing her. She was a senior lady with gray hair and my imagination of what she would look like as a ghost was most definitely occupying my mind. That was one of the longest night for me. The ward was semi-dark as the nurses would turn most of the lights out. I had to pee but was so afraid to come out of my bed and walk down the hall. It took a lot of courage to do so. I dashed to the bathroom saying to myself I will not be afraid although I can feel the fear sensations in me. I said “God please help me, please take away my fear”I thought of death and wondered “was I going to die?” This must be serious for them to put me with these severely ill people.

The Convalescent Home

At the convalescent home I made friends with some girls my age and there were other kids who were more ill than me. It was a very long room with multiple beds side by side. The food was terrible and I missed home and school and I stayed there for 6 long weeks.  We had breakfast, lunch, tea time at 4 pm and dinner at wound 5:30 or 6 p.m. The most terrible thing I had to eat was liver(i think cow liver). They made us eat it. Being from a Hindu home this was not something we would never eat I did not even know that it was a very strict thing to not eat this because this was not discussed at home. I was not very learned about it and did not want to go hungry. Tea time at 4pm heralded the worst sweet bread you could eat. Sometimes the they would bring soup and I would still be hungry after eating it. One day my friend Latchmi (who was 16 and the eldest patient there)in the bed next to me, traded my soup for hers. Her bowl had more food than mine. I was happy to trade but I did not know that she suffered from kidney disease and could not have salt. She was fed up of no salt and that’s why she traded. I was stupid to do so but did not know any better. I just know that I was going to be full and she was my friend so we traded.

My mother, family members, villagers and relatives visited as often as possible and I looked forward to their visits and the oranges and bananas they would bring. Mama always hugged me and I know she wanted to cry. I don’t remember specifically all who visited me but I do remember one particular visitor. It was Bhagwan – who years later would become my husband. I was surprised by his visit because he was my brothers’s friends. My brothers and their friends would usually hang out in the front of my house on a bench so everyone was concerned about my well being. I was shy at 13, and he would have been 18 so there was not a romantic thing or sort but I was intrigued by his visit. I felt that he was the smartest boy in the village and he came to see me and that felt tingly or exciting. Many years later after we were married I asked him what did he feel then. He said he just felt sad about the situation and thought that I was a such a very nice, beautiful girl for this to have happened to. 🙂

When I was released it took me a long time to catch up with school work. I think I was in form 2 or 3 in school. At the time I felt like crying because I prided myself in doing well at school. I had to attend the heart clinic every 3 months for them to check my heart and get an injection every month. My butt was always sore. Sometimes I had to put a hot rag to help ease the pain. It was a rather big needle and I could feel the “Penudu – penicillin” seep into my body. I took injections every month until I was 17- 18 years of age. One day while at the heart clinic at the hospital, I met the parents of Latchmi from the convalescent home. She had passed away. I felt sad.

The doctor told me not to do any strenuous activity. As a result I did not take part in sports( in school they called it Physical Education) and had a note from the doctor to give to the school. My mom never give me too much work. I heard from my aunts recently and they said that my mom always said that I was a ‘delicate’ child. This is why she must have said it.

When my husband came to ask for my hand in marriage, my mom told him I could not do “hard work” meaning not too much strenuous work. My husband said that he would buy a washing machine for me and take care of me. In those days many people in Trinidad did not have washers and dryers.

Many years later after having my 2 kids and coming to the USA at my visit to the doctor – he said that there is no murmur. My heart is perfectly healthy 🙂

Thus I grew up thinking about life, death and God and wondered about such things.

My past life adventures will continue when I get the writing bug again but I had most of this written already so just decided to share today.

This entry was posted on February 20, 2021. Bookmark the permalink.