The Moment Begins Now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Dean of Nursing

Who are you, and what are you doing here?” The Dean of Nursing at the Kigali Health Institute asked me. “I have heard no mention of your arrival,” she said, with an air of exclusivity and dislike.

I turned to look at Mazungo, who, quite frankly, looked worse than most patients I have had in the Emergency Room. I know I look worse. The well-groomed, maintained and professional traveller vibe we had left Halifax with had lost it’s battle with the back-to-back-to-back planes, leaving u in a state between jet-lag and landing, smelling of stale recycled air and group body-odor. My eyes were dreaming of sleep, shutting themselves at regular intervals, giving me the look of a man who was permanently staring at the sun.

Naturally, our luggage was nowhere to be found (“That is odd, it is not even in the system,” Olivier, the baggage attendant said, genuinely surprised, stabbing frantically at his archaic MS-DOS computer screen), and the people who picked us up insisted we meet every single staff at the Institute we would be working at those first few hours. We refused, then gave into the gentle coaxing of the group.

This was a bad idea, I thought, tussling my hair and clearing my throat, trying to formulate an answer. Oh no, I don't even know. Like jumping into a shallow lake without looking, I had only read the job description once, and that was months ago. This was where I was supposed to work, and I didn't even know what my job description was. Dear Ravi, will you ever change?
Ravi: Post-Africa Flight Smile

That's rhetorical, by the way.

Just smile, I thought. People Love Smiles.

My smile must have resembled a fish, because the look she replied with was one that looked like a shark, as she leaned back in her office chair, appraising her new meal. “I... I am a fully trained Registered... Nurse from Canada and I am here... as a Professor,” I stuttered, sounding like the child who botches his one line in a school play.

We have a midwifery course that we need an instructor for,” she said without looking at me as she scribbled my name furiously into her notebook. I blanched, and swallowed the sticky-fear that was gaining momentum in my throat.

Yeah, I thought... I birthed three babies... in second year... well not really birthed... I watched... well, I sat down for one... almost fainted. I could teach it... Oh no, I don't have a midwivery textbook... Wait a minute, I can't even be a wife, how do I teach being a mid-one?

Fate must have decided that that was enough humor for one day, because our host arrived and hastily ushered us out to meet some other higher-ups of the organization before I could speak another word. Eventually, we were shown our new home, with three bedrooms (for two of us!), a fully functioning kitchen (a fridge, microwave and toaster!) and, most importantly, an epic balcony, which most of our time at home would be spent, lounging over books, movies and music overlooking Mount Kigali.

That first night, we slept 16 hours, and groggily willed our bodies to function at 7am. Work started at 8am.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Ravi J. "I can't even be a wife, how do I teach being a mid-one?" I didn't have enough laughter for that. Keep up the writing, I'm loving it. Elephants and street crossings.