Monday, March 30, 2009

The Splinter in the Paw


“Do you remember the story of the lion who has a splinter in his paw?”

“Yes”. “No”.
“Maybe a little?”

That may have been a fable but this is a true story of Saturday 22.03.2009.

My journalist daughter, her 22 month young boy and I were out on our planned excursion to see an animal, any animal – preferably a horse of course – either gender, any age, any size….
We left home at 09:00 but no sooner had we left than it happened.

“What happened?”

“We learnt about it four hours later…”

“Noble lady of our home – let us call her KAY – had been in the shower when the door bell rang…..”


“She rushed a little…..” That was her first mistake ….

“Why is her rushing an error?”

Surely Kay did not want to keep the person waiting …. And she forgot the teaching of the noble messenger –

“What teaching?”

“Haste comes from Satan …”

“Tell us what happened to the lady Kay?”

“She was trying to steady herself on the banister – the wooden handrail which had not troubled anyone since we moved here in 1977 – when a splinter of wood pierced her right hand and …”

“And what?”

“She never told me how much it hurt or whether she let out a sound – but she says that it bled rather profusely – she managed to pull out one large wooden sliver about 3 cm (one inch is 2.54 cm) long but was unable to extricate the portion protruding from the other side of her (right) palm …”
“Why didn’t she get help?”

“Stoic and courageously she decided on SABR”.

“That is not an English word – “

“No, there is no word that completely describes SABR in English – the meaning of SABR is a combination of several English words. Patience is too passive, forbearance and a capacity of courage usually exhibited by the fair sex during extreme stress e.g. childbirth – so she waited while the hand continued to swell up.

When we returned home the toddler wanted to do outside activities – this long winter has been a Guantanamo of sorts for him and he totally refused to re-enter the house.
Kay looked out of the window and understood that the infant had a need to run about outside –
“I did tell the journalist (mother of the toddler) about my hand .” says Kay.

To cut a long story short – it was about 4 hours before the splinter was seen by a physician –
“You need an operation”, said the Doc.

At a nearby clinic the local anaesthetic and the knife were missing, so the Doc asked a junior colleague to help locate the knife and the anaesthetic.

“Would you like to help me ..?”

An innocent enough question but sufficient to raise an eyebrow and a curious quizzical puzzled expression on the faces of the two other doctors working the Saturday shift.

“What sort of question is that? … like to help …?”

“I just need to find some surgical instruments and local anaesthetic to freeze her hand ..”

Reluctantly, the young doctor – whom I have known for many years – accompanies me to the patient’s room.

“Doctor N, this is my wife Kay – the splinter has lodged deep and at an angle like a fish hook …
I cannot find the instruments; would you know where they are kept?”
He is Iranian – suddenly animated – perhaps relieved that I am not thrusting upon him the performance of the operation – he moves fast now and finds a knife and a set of prepackaged sterile instruments.
I can see that his apprehension has faded away – he is smiling now.

“How is your golf?” I ask.
“Fine,” he has arm muscles like coiled snakes, and he lets me feel them.
“I won’t charge you for helping.”

“And Dr. N, I won’t charge you for seeing the face of my wife – normally it is covered up with a HIJAB” –
I lie quite brazenly.

I can see that Dr. N is impressed – he has seen the face of a lady who is not seen by any outsiders – the true facts are that even I saw her face for the first time three days after our official marriage day … but that is another story.

Incidentally it is always wise to have a doctor in the house – even if he takes 4 hours to look at your bleeding hand.

“Why did this happen?”

The answer lies in another word – “TAWAJJUH.”


  1. Aunty Q is getting involved in bar fights now?