Tuesday, May 15, 2007

shoes too big



Yesterday I went get a yellow fever vaccine for my family's expedition to the rainforest in Colombia come June. I always enjoy 'going into town' in Trujillo, as i can sit quietly and observe life going on around me. I also enjoy for whatever odd reason the city-taxi smell, that can be only found in a taxi in a south american city. Its an oddly comforting smell. We stepped out in front of the public hospital for those without insurance, and I was not surprised to find many people sitting, standing and wandering around. A few young medical students cut through the people, a sharp contrast in their pristine white lab coats. As Kandie says: "I wouldnt take my sick dog to this hospital".

After a surprisingly pain free payment for my vaccine we walked down the block and around the corner to a clinic which specializes in vaccines and particularly baby vaccines, I'd imagine since there was a sign announcing that only monday wednesday and friday were open to such shots. Being a monday, the mothers and babies filled up the benches. We made our way up to the door emitting baby wails. Passing a poster of emeciated babies with the inscription: "is you child sick? -baby diseases", we handed over the reciept for the shot I'd paid for. With that many new borns around the place i didnt think we'd be out of there anytime soon, so we took our place on the wooden benches. I could spend all day describing my observations of the different mothers, the few fathers, and the stories I made up about their home situations. However my eye was drawn again and again to a young mother, who sat silently across from us. Kandie suggested that she was probably all of 15, and suggestion of her being the older sister was invalidated when she began to nurse the child. ...how sad, i thought...taking in all of her, from her tired eyes, her oversized jacket, and her unkempt hair, but her oversized shoes stuck out to me. They were in typical peruvian fashion, that is to say: several inches high, but more than that they were at least 3 sizes too big for her small feet. They must have been her sister's? her mother's? perhaps a gift for this new mother on mother's day? i dont know how she must have walked in them, and its a wander she didnt trip and drop her baby, a tiny pink brand new little thing. Mercifully it slept the whole time, since the mother seemed in no desire to hold it, cuddle it, or otherwise as other mothers around the place did.

My thoughts continued along this venue until i heard one of the ladies turn to her and ask: "How old are you?" My ears perked up, and I listened curiously as I can imagine every other woman in the room did who heard. The mother answered faintly with her eyes downcast, and I didnt even hear what she said. Kandie imediately turned to me and said two words:

"She's twelve."

2 Comments:

At 12:33 AM, Blogger Andy said...

Poor Girl

 
At 11:50 AM, Blogger jonhaynie said...

Oh my word... it tears my heart out and stops on it with cleats. I didn't even know it was possible to have a baby that young...

How sobering.

 

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