Monday, April 20, 2009

Eddy, Budy, Piste Top Bar


Three days later I returned to Bogor to find that Eddy was no longer in hospital . His father had taken him home.

"Why did you take the boy home?" I demanded of the father, when I reached his hut.

"Eddy was better," came the reply.

"Has he got any medicine?"


"This is crazy. We must get back to the hospital immediately."

The father didn’t argue. We piled into my van and drove fast over the potholes towards the centre of town.

"Why," I asked the doctor at the Hospital, "was Eddy allowed to go home without any medicine?"

"We can’t force patients to stay," said the doctor, avoiding my eyes.

"Should he stay in hospital?" I asked.

"He’s not yet better but the father wants him home. However, he can get some outpatient medicine." The doctor began to write out a prescription.

Before going home I visited Budi’s house. It was empty but a little way along the road I came across the family on their way to visit neighbours. Budi was in tears, trailing behind his mum and dad. Mum was scolding Budi and her teeth were showing. I stopped to ask after the child’s health. I was assured that all was well.

By the time I got to the plush and exclusive Piste Top Bar that evening, to meet Fergus, I was ready for a drink. I had a lot on my mind. I was discovering that in the Third World it was not always so easy to help the waifs and strays. There was the problem of human nature. Nurses could let their child patients walk out of the ward; foolish TB patients seemed to prefer buying TV sets to buying hospital medicines; ignorant fathers could take their children out of hospital too soon; impatient mothers could reduce their sick children to tears. Perhaps it was the same in the slums of Liverpool or London.

I looked around the bar. The clientele were mainly Indonesians in dark suits or designer dresses. On several tables there were whisky bottles positioned beside the candles.

"How was your day?" I asked Fergus.

"Squash at ISCI. Well, I was thirsty. Went for a workout. Sunbathed at the Mandarin. How was your day?"

"Still no sign of Bangbang." I was aware that I had been in favour of Bangbang staying on at the Dipo hospital.

"Well, it’s not your fault."

"It’s crowded tonight," I said, changing the subject. "Who’s the guy getting all the attention over on our left?"

"Relation of Big Daddy, sitting with his body guards," said Fergus.

"Big Daddy?"

"The President," explained Fergus.

"And the guy in the dark blue suit at the back?" I asked.

"I could be wrong, but it looks like the general who organised the East Timor invasion in 1975. A good catholic."

"Surely not."

"And the CIA station chief is the guy at the next table who looks like a Colombian drugs baron."

"You’re having me on. That’s Carmen."

Indeed it was Carmen and she came to join us at our table. As the Philippino band began to play a song about "Money! Money! Money!" I began to relax with my beer.

A few days later my driver had good news. He had visited Eddy in Bogor and found that the boy was restored to good health. His typhoid was gone.


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