on a fast train from Baltimore to New York hypnotised by the bare wintry
trees weaving in an out of a fog so dense it looks part of a movie set to
a tropical creature like me, warmed with caffeine, overhearing the clever
banter between laptop tapping entrepreneurs, it is easy to be engulfed
into a cosy sense that God is in his heaven, and all is right with the
thatís also a Christmas feeling. Childlike. Safe yet filled with
curiosity, excitement of whatís around the corner. A magical fog-filled
gets harder as you gain experience to capture the foggy warmth because you
know in the real world the moment you let down your guard, lose clarity,
you are going to get kicked in the gutóhard.
doles out the real deal. Mistakes, harsh facts, that canít be undone.
Difficult choices. Happens too fast.
old enough, read enough, seen enough of the world to be incredibly
grateful, not to live in a warring country, not to be among the millions
in poverty stricken areas of India, Africa, Latin America, not to be among
women who regularly die during childbirth, lose a child to malnutrition or
HIV/Aids or a husband butchered in a stupid oil-and-dollar-motivated war
had my fair share of human rights, of shelter, food, education, freedom of
expression. Freedom from fear (of murder, kidnapping, robbery) is
something weíve learned to live with.
illness struck a close relative over five years ago, and after breaking my
ankle four times, I have learned to marvel at being able to walk, at the
movement of every limb, of the intricacy of the human body, the drumming
heart beat, healthy organs.
sight of a child on a cycle, flying down a hill, arms akimbo is an
everyday miracle of a perfectly functioning body and brain.
news of the 13-year-old girl who died of a brain tumour was sadder because
deep down we didnít expect her to be saved at all. State medical care,
despite recent improvements, and the brilliance of many of our doctors, is
still associated with a place of dying, not a place of hope.
you read, scores of people are dying, waiting their turn for operations
and treatment. The Cepep mentality has trickled up, ďWhatís in it for
me?Ē has spread like an ugly oil spill to many medical professionals who
get away with it because they work without checks and balances.
Johns Hopkins where I have been these past few days, you swipe a card and
it tells you what time your blood test is. Someone is waiting for you. The
doctor tells you the risk and benefit of each procedure. Attendants and
co-ordinators are appraised of your situation and there is rigorous
are several complaints departments. There is even a complaints telephone
number over the pharmacistís window if you are dissatisfied with
about being accountable, of welcoming continuing studies, of wanting to
work by a code of ethics.
institutions have millions of dollars pumped into them, with something to
show for it, ours have the same with nothing to show for it. Here they
charge crippling fees for ďinternationalĒ patients, but this amazing
care, these places of hope are available to US citizens for nominal
choice for us swimming in oil is to be financially ruined or gamble with
our lives. A great doctor one day, a careless one another.
fog has cleared. The rain hurtles through a tunnel. The faces of wonderful
Trini doctors swim in front of me. They must speak out. A flash of light
illuminates bare trees.