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I wrote this years ago to record an experience as staff of a politician. What eventually happened, or whatever the thoughts of the man, from whose point of view this was written, were unknown to me. This was never published. But I came upon it now, so it must be looking to be shared...
I felt cold sweat trickle down my back. My hands were cold, too, as I looked at the door and slowly opened it. There were three ladies inside, laughing over something as they prepared to call it a day. How I wish there was another way out of this. But night was falling and I needed to get back to the hospital.
Nina needed this operation badly. But unless we can raise the money for medicines, the doctors would not schedule it. They would perform the procedure for free, but the patient had to shoulder some of the cost.
I've been out since this morning. My legs were ready to give up from all the walking I had done. A ride would have been easier, faster, but I needed to save every cent I had for Nina.
My stomach grumbled. I was faint from hunger and thirst. It must've been written all over my face as I slipped inside the office quietly.
They all turned to me. One came up to greet me. She had a kind face. "What can we do for you, sir?" she asked. I expected scorn or indifference like the others who greeted me earlier in other places. She smiled to encourage me and I realized I still had not said a word.
"I... I'd like to ask help for my wife." Was that me speaking with a trembling, almost feeble voice? "Any little help will be greatly appreciated," I went on.
The girls looked at one another. They must be used to hearing stories like mine. So I did not mind the skepticism I saw on their faces. "She needs surgery immediately, and we need to buy her medicines."
She looked at me apologetically. "I'm sorry, but we have a policy that financial aid can only be given to our constituents. They'll look at your documents and these will be disapproved eventually," she explained.
In my head I knew what she was saying. Their hands were tied. But my heart refused to listen. "Ma'am, please I beg you. If she does not go through surgery soon, she will die."
The words suddenly came rushing out before I could stop myself. I told them how Nina had been bleeding for several days before we finally found help to get her to a hospital. We were told she had a mass in her abdomen that ruptured and needed surgery. But they couldn't do it all for free.
I remembered Nina's face before I left. It was so pale. She grimaced in pain but she gave me a small smile, while trying to mask the pain she'd had to endure for days. It had been a restless night, all of us sleeping fitfully.
She grasped my hand, her grip so limp I was almost afraid her fingers would crush under mine. I had to be strong for the woman who bore me three beautiful children, and who was so devoted to our family.
She squeezed my heart as she said, "Take care of yourself out there. And don't forget to say thank you even if they can't help us." I hugged her carefully. Her eyes were closed when I left the ward.
Tears stung my eyes. I knew Nina hated to beg. So, I will do it for her. She deserved to get well and to live. And I loved her too much just to stand by and do nothing.
I didn't realize that my eyes had welled up and tears were streaming down my face. The women's faces registered panic and worry. I quickly swiped away the tears with the back of my hand and apologized.
Suddenly one of the ladies in the room stepped forward and handed me money. The others were shocked and embarrassed by the gesture. She said, "I'm sorry, this is all I have with me. But I hope it will help."
Then she asked, "Would you like some water?" To the other girl she said, "Give him some of the cookies and coffee." She turned back to me, "You look like you haven't eaten."
I smiled in gratitude. As I took a sip of water, the liquid seemed to wash away the tiredness of the entire day. For some reason, I felt a spark of hope. It wasn't the grandest of gestures, what the woman did. But she did it with little thought.
What did I say differently here than what I've been saying throughout the day?
It was almost dark. My footsteps echoed in the long empty hallway. It had been a long day and I was no closer to my goal than when I started.
Then it dawned on me it was almost Christmas. I barely paid attention to the twinkling lights, decors and Christmas carols that were playing over the sound system. Nina's predicament was all I could think of and Christmas was but a memory.
Grateful for the refreshments, I found my strength. Generosity is contagious. Before I left, the women insisted I take some bread and ham they were planning to share among themselves. The coffee and cookies were more than enough.
I did not want to overstay my welcome but they insisted I take it back to Nina. When I pushed open that office door, I was almost hopeless. But fate leads us to meet people who, with the simplest of deeds make a profound impact in our lives.
I still did not have all that we needed for Nina's surgery, but I know I had more hope in my heart when I left those three ladies. It was truly Christmas because I had just experienced a small miracle.