Sunday, March 01, 2009

John and Saepul

Back in Bogor I paid a visit to the mental hospital to see how John was getting on. He’d lost weight again and looked sad.

"Has John seen the doctor?" I asked Diana, the nurse on duty.

"Yes, John’s OK."

"Has he still got diarrhoea?"

"He’s OK."

"Can I take some of the kids for a walk?"

"Mr Kent, you have no children of your own?" She looked at me with a distinct sneer.

"No. Who can I take for a walk?"

"Saepul." This was the boy who from time to time punched his own face.

"Will one of the nurses come with me?"

"No." She laughed.

Saepul’s hands were untied and I set off towards the shop. When I reached my vehicle I bravely, or foolishly, decided I would let the boy into the back seat so he could have a short excursion to the nearest kampung.

Saepul had still not punched his face and we had been travelling for ten minutes. We got out of the vehicle and started walking along a path which led to a warung, a food stall. We bought some pastries which Saepul wolfed down. Next to the warung, there was a strange bird at the end of a string and we sat down to look at it. The bird’s owner, a schoolboy, came to stare at Saepul, in a worried but sympathetic way. Saepul’s fist thudded against his right cheek. Pause. Then another thud. I stood up, took Saepul’s hand, and hurried him back to the van and his hospital ward.

No comments: