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A mountain out of a molehill…

It was in the year 2006.
Leading a hectic life on the idyllic island of Fuvamallah, set in the farthest parts of the Indian Ocean, I was summoned one day, from school, by my husband.
A shard of glass had pierced our four year old son’s right heel.It had to be removed.
I had to come to the hospital to pacify the wailing kid.

This beautiful, slipper shaped island, with an area of 4.93 square kilometres had just one 30- bedded hospital and five doctors, all expatriates.
When I reached the casualty, I found my husband and another doctor trying to pull out the piece of glass, which was pyramid shaped, it’s apex pointed inwardly.
The thing was lodged between the layers of thick skin that forms the cushion on the heel and it went deeper inside as they tried to take hold of the slippery end.
The more they tried, the more it seemed to dive inside, baffling them.
Finally they decided to do the procedure, under anesthesia.
The other doctors too joined them in the OT.

Meanwhile, I waited outside with my 12 year old daughter, praying fervently for good news that the piece of glass was taken out.
An hour or so later, my husband came out and the
grim look on his face was disheartening.
The culprit, could not be found, he said.
All the 5 doctors had tried to take it out and each time, a cut was added to my son’s foot.
It was a futile effort and finally because he could take it no longer, my husband had said, enough is enough.
It was like a wild goose chase.
The more they tried, the harder it became to locate it.
Suddenly, this seemingly simple procedure took on monstrous dimensions.The fragment seemed to have a life of its own, taunting the doctors, saying- catch me if you can!
Giving up, they bandaged my son’s operated foot, with the piece of glass smugly hiding inside.
It was decided that he should be shifted to Male’ the capital island which had the biggest hospital in the country, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.

Now, travelling to Male’ from this Southern island, was no piece of cake.
At that time, the island did not have an airport and neither did seaplanes land there.
We had to travel by boat to the nearest, bigger island called Hidhathoo, which had an airport.
And there were boat services only thrice a week or so.
Now, the sea was often
rough, due to the strong undercurrents, formed by underwater channels, as this island was surrounded by some of the deepest parts of the Indian Ocean, right on the equator.

To the adventurous ones, crossing the sea and the experience of being in a boat that jumped from the crest of one wave onto another would be thrilling!
But to the faint hearted like me, it was a nightmare.
We were all given plastic bags as soon as we were seated, in case we fell queasy and sick.
But the boats men were all very well experienced and that was some comfort.
At other times the sea has been as calm as a sleeping baby and had delighted us with its beautiful shades of blue and mesmerizing sights of frolicking dolphins.
But on this particular day, with a wounded, boisterous four year old, I had just one thing in mind-
to reach the main island.
After we reached the next island that had a small airport, we boarded a plane that could accommodate just about twenty three people.
This flight, offered more sights from above, as it flew closer to the earth. Down below, I could see the outlines of the green islands bordered by stretches of white sandy beaches and the bright blue sea sparkling in the sun.
But on that day, even nature at its best, was not a solace.

The hospital, was not unfamiliar to me because, my son was born there four years ago.
Apart from other merits, it offers one of the best sights of the sea from its huge glass windows.
The hospital had a C-arm, an equipment, that would help surgeons to monitor the progress of the procedure, through images in real time.
The surgeons at IGMH at first thought that the doctors from the remote island of Fuvamallah were incapable, but they had to admit defeat too and later take the help of the C-arm machine.
After about two hours,
we rushed to see the protagonist of this story – the piece of glass, that the surgeon handed over to us.
To this date, it is still kept with us in safe custody.

And as my son turns18, next month, it will be a reminder that there will be tacks, thorns and broken pieces of glass on the way, that can hurt us.
But it can only hurt, it cannot defeat us.
And life can still be beautiful, inspite of it.

Annie Cyriac
Teacher, Amrita HS
Moolavattom

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