Dear mum . This Ireland is a strange place for a well brought up young Kashmiri doctor. In fact it can sometimes seem like a gaping chasm, culturewise. Take the other Sunday night for instance. I was called from my bed to the A and E department where I found myself confronting a large old woman wearing only a dog blanket - Allah be Praised. Even sitting in a wheelchair it was clear that very little of her modesty was left to the imagination, (though the legend "Paws" on the spotted garment was some distraction for an animal lover like myself). The old woman was clear, to the point of aggression, that she had not had a heart attack or broken her back. She had , however, torn a muscle in her back and was in severe pain. Eventually the nurse and I decided it was safer to take her at her word, especially since, by this stage her language had deteriorated to what I later learned was called "anglo-saxon". This language contains words which you are unfamiliar with, dear mother, and which I had never learned during the many years I spent becoming fluent in the tongue of the oppressors.There is no adequate translation for such words in Urdu, or Punjabi , let alone Arabic. In fact I had not heard anything like them in all the years I spent in the Ukraine studying medecine and Russian.
She was given a painkiller injection - sufficient to stun a strong ox- and some hours later we felt it safe to ask her if she could stand. She agreed to try, on condition that the nurse and I help her. This we did and slowly, she rose, unfortunately dislodging her grip on the dog blanket. Only the intervention of the great Prophet saved me from impiety. For as she rose, so too did the wheelchair, due to the fact that her unclothed lower regions had stuck to the plastic of the seat.
Believe me, dearest mother, it was a terrible sight and combined with the strange " anglo-saxon" has left an indelible mark on my mind. As I write, I believe I may be suffering post traumatic shock. I can only hope that my stay in Ireland does not continue to hold such surprises. Your trembling son, Naeem.