I hate hospitals.
I really hate them. You know, the smell of them. There are so many chemicals in there that you actually wonder how people can be healed in it. And the walls. White, or sometimes a shade of green that is so ugly that I personally would sue the Pantone firm for having created it – If I had the time.
My story begins in Saint Mary’s Hospital. Back in the eighties, it was specialized in cancer research – or what they thought was cancer at that time. It has now become even more depressing than what a hospital possibly can be. A lot of people were fired, and the patients – funny we would call them like that, because they do have a lot of patience, let’s face it, they don’t struggle with hope anymore – were just lying there. No TV, no board games, no lousy clown trying to entertain or anything. Just waiting peacefully for Death to come.
That’s why I got hired in the first place. Not really “hired” actually. I volunteered. No, that’s another lie. My mother clearly told me to get up and do something – anything – or she would, I quote, ‘kick me out of the house with a broom’. So here I am, nervously waiting for the nurse to bring me to Mister Walter’s room. I’m grinning. I must look really stupid. It’s the kind of grin that is actually a mask, so that people would never guess that inside, what you really want is to pee in your pants like a 3 years-old.
The book I’m going to read to him, James and the Giant Peach – I don’t know why I chose to read James and the Giant Peach to a man that seems to have known the First World War – is literally shaking on my knees.
Finally, the nurse comes in and brings me to his room. It is furnished with his bed, his body lying in the bed, and an Ikea table – the one that everybody has, that costs barely nothing. And of course all the medical stuff, but that doesn’t really count as furniture, does it? I mean, you don’t find this on page 32 of the Ikea catalogue.
He looks up and notices me.
I can’t believe this is the first time I meet my grandfather.