Monday, April 20, 2009

Asep and Eddy


7.4

When the weekend came I visited little Budi in Bogor. Good news. His eyes shone, he smiled, his hair looked darker, and, although still seriously malnourished, he had put on a little weight.

I took a walk to see consumptive Asep in his damp little home under the trees.

"Have you had an x-ray?" I asked.

"Yes," said Asep, handing me an envelope containing the evidence. The doctor says I have TB. I’ve got some medicine."

"Got a receipt?"

"Yes," he said, handing over some slips of paper and some funny little plastic bags containing pills, all of which I examined with care.

"There’s a receipt for the x-ray and the consultation. I can’t see any receipt for the pills."

"I got the pills from the puskesmas, the local clinic. It’s cheaper."

"So what happened to the money left over?"

"For food."

"Is that a new TV I can see inside?" I could see a cheap little television sat on a table.

"No. We borrowed that from a friend. It’s an old TV."

"These pills from the clinic look odd. Are they as good as the pills from the hospital?"

"Yes."

"I’d prefer you to get the next lot of pills from the hospital and you must get a receipt!" I handed him the money for the next hospital visit.

As I set off back towards my van, I passed a falling down shack, outside which sat a very sick looking young teenage boy, by name Eddy. His face was grey.

"What are these strange green herbs stuck to your forehead?" I asked.

"The dukun, the medicine-man, put them there. I’ve got a fever."

"Are you getting better?"

"No, I feel very bad."

"Want to go to Bogor’s Menteng hospital?"

"Yes, but my father has no money."

"Don’t worry about that."

When we reached the hospital, the doctor did a blood test, diagnosed "typhoid", admitted him to a ward, and had him put on a drip. The boy’s hollow-cheeked father, who did not look very bright, signed the requisite admission form. I paid a deposit and left money for medicine.

"Eddy will need to stay here for at least a week," said the doctor. "He’s very dehydrated."

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