Friend

How does one grieve and learn how to grieve at the same time? I told them to go to the hospital. I touched her sleeping body yesterday, pinched her to see if she’d wake up. I wanted to play. They said she was sick. She was crying all night. Take her to the hospital I told them.  I wish I had a better answer than going to that goddamn hospital. It’s too far. Far if you’ve been working all day. With your arms. Your hands. Your back. You have to get the cart and the donkey. Then put the cart on the donkey. Then you have to go the long way around.  The quicker road is too rocky from last year’s flood. It’s only ok when you’re on foot. When you’re carrying a school pack. A small notebook. A pen. It’s only ok if you’re not sick. Or the baby you’re carrying isn’t heavy or sick. I told them not to wait. But you have to wait. There’s no line. No order of importance. Everyone is hurting. Everyone is waiting to be overprescribed. Or underestimated. Or sent home because they’re just dehydrated. They don’t know how long they waited. But she died in the meantime. I don’t know who was holding her. The doctor? They tried giving her an IV. Was it still in her arm? Her mother cried. I don’t know how loudly. Did she scream like I wanted to when they said, “Your little friend died while you were gone,”? The village cried. I don’t know how loudly. But apparently not too much. It’ll bring bad luck to the village. Fires. Don’t sneeze when they bury the body. You’ll bring more death to the village. Sickness. “She was so healthy,” they said . “May God bring her to heaven,” they said. Their eyes scan mine. To see how an outsider feels pain? How they cry over the death of a child named Friend? I hide my tears in my knees. May God bring her to heaven, I cried.

Amen Amen, they said.