Monday, August 22, 2011

Delightful Days in Ipswich

One early summer in 2011, a quartet of students were flown 6557 miles across the continent from Malaysia to the United Kingdom to ultimately find themselves in the small, strange town of Ipswich, one of the oldest town in England where the locals spoke in a queer medieval English accent and the bus stops face the opposite side of the road. These are the students of the arts of healing, or medicine as some call it. They were sent to this peculiar town with the trust of their Professors to learn the ways of curing ailments associated with the ear, nose and throat, commonly known in abbreviation as ENT. Although they went on separate voyages from Malaysia to this foreign land, along their stay in Ipswich they would stay close when it comes to their intellectual endeavours inside the four walls of the hospital named after the town itself: Ipswich Hospital, where stories of birth, growth, decline and death were confined into. The long hallways of the hospital were lined with glass windows and dozens of artwork by an artist by the name of David Poole, and each morning they would make their way past these hallways to the east side of the hospital, where their morning feast awaits. Devouring the typical menu consisting of fried eggs, hash browns and bread as fast as possible, they would then rush towards the opposite side of the hospital and ascend to the second floor where the square one of morning rounds is.

As opposed to the hospital they were used to back in their homeland, there was no dedicated ward for ENT patients in Ipswich Hospital. The patients were scattered in different wards around the hospital, compelling them to travel from one ward to another, making out their typically British names: Stowupland, Somersham, Framlingham, Brantham and Martlesham to name a few. Wards to wards, patients were found one by one by this flock of gleeful doctors and upon reaching their beds, their elated moods would be tuned down to suit the patients’ temperament. Curtains were drawn around the bed, temporarily delineating them from the rest of room, allowing transactions of confidential information about their illness to take place, followed by questions, answers and advice, which would all be simmered down into two opposing conclusions: ‘you can go home now’ or ‘you need to stay a bit longer’. Customarily, compliments would be given to the doctors for the former, and complaints for the latter. Along their way to see another patient, the doctors would also discuss deliberately among themselves in quiet chatter about further plans for the latter case. One by one, the patients were seen, greetings were exchanged, compliments and complaints were gathered, and patients were sent home, until they eventually arrive at the clinics, marking the end of the morning rounds and the beginning of consultation hours.

Arrival upon the clinics on the South side would usually be greeted by pleasant and courteous nurses, most memorable was the one by the name of Celia, who has a way of saying ‘good morning’ in a cheerful manner to which the students would have a difficult time not to reply with a fairly equal amount of cheer. Their path would temporarily separate here as they reach for different doors numbered one to four, finding themselves in a small room with a large window which the nurses would slide downwards to let the refreshing summer air in, a big table for the deliberate work of the doctor, a small sink for the killing of germs, and numerous other doctor’s tools of trade. Laid in a perfect triangle were 3 chairs of different shape and size. The smallest and most ordinary of them all was for the students to sit and listen, the larger one that swivels around was for the doctor to sit and talk, and the largest one with hand rests, which when tilted fully forms into a bench, was for the sick one to be treated. For hours, the doctors would attend to the patients while the students listen attentively to doctor-patient conversation.

The gap of time in between patients was the only time for the students to ask questions to the doctors and vice versa. With names such as Hilger, Yung, Baska, Satish, Raj, Ogunniyi, Qureshi and Anjayi, it is not difficult to swerve away from medical themes and ask the doctors where they were actually from, followed by the question of ‘where the doctors of actual English descent have gone to?’, but the students feel that it is not a fitting question to ask, for the fear of being accused of chauvinism. Sometimes, the patients can be quite amusing but laughers were held as long as the patients were still in. Once out the door, they would burst out in laughter at the punched nose, ear plugs left in the ear, or the small toy left in the child’s nose. Sometimes the doctors can be quite amusing too. Once a doctor point out to one of the student that her dress was too long, when in fact she was wearing the traditional Malay dress ‘baju kurung’ which was meant to be that long. This happened for hours, until noon where lunch calls for a break, and in the evening they would either go on with the clinics or they would scrub into inky blue surgery attire and enter the operating theatre where miracles happen by the minutes.

Such were their daily endeavours in Ipswich that it became a routine for them to gain knowledge this way, every day. Without them realizing, it was nearly the end of their venture in the foreign land. On their last day, they spent time taking photos, hoping to capture the good memories together with these lot of joyful people. But nothing compares to the memories that will replayed again and again later in their minds . One of the students who had this sheer love of caf├ęs experience went to a perfect one he found by the pier. He admired the glow of the evening sun and the sight of boats docking in and sailing out of Ipswich. Sipping coffee, listening to the likes of Jack Johnson, Kings of Convenience and Damien Rice, he lets his mind meditate. Suddenly each and every moment, even small things, feels much more meaningful. Soon he will be home, shouldering more responsibilities and living more expectations. But none of those worries bothered him. He was in a state of total detachment. For a moment, he was in a total peace of mind. Like a painter, come whatever, he thought, he will take time to close his eyes and paint this feeling of tranquillity and continue to live the life he was bound to live. 


ryan said...

wow .. nice view

mimiqt said...



Lutfi Fadil Lokman said...

Haha, this is more like storytelling ;)

shamiranadia said...

i always feel doctors are amazing.till i feel insecure around them.and always feel jealous towards them

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