by E. L. Louie
A blind man sees again.
|“I don’t know why you bother.” Eli’s monotone was no surprise.
“It’s no bother.” I opened the row of vertically narrow blinds.
A warm golden tint illuminated the room. Well manicured lawns, blossomy dogwoods and sunshine framed my view. Briefly, I forgot we were in a hospital.
“Eli.” His name slipped from my lips. “It’s such a beautiful morning.”
“Anna, I won’t see again. I’ve got retinitis lignemtosa. There’s no cure.”
“You can’t believe that!” Hope forced the words out of my mouth.
“It doesn’t matter how many specialists you drag me too. The diagnosis is always the same.” His mechanical empty voice was void of feelings.
I tried to speak. 'Dragging you? I thought this was what you wanted too!' No words came.
“I’m not doing this anymore. I’ve seen enough specialists. Anna, I’m a neurologist! I knew this was a waste of time from the start,” he finished in defeat.
I started to scream. 'Doctors make the worst patients. They know so much, but have little faith.' Instead, angry and teary eyed, I dashed into the hall.
Finding solace in a nearby restroom, three years of pent up tears flowed.
If there was such a thing as jumping out of your skin, I jumped. Contents of my purse flew as I whirled in the direction of the voice.
“Din meen ta scear ya, na.”
She didn’t move or attempt to assist as I hastily retrieved my cell phone and wallet.
“Uhm Jamilla. Ya bauwling sao. Sombady ded?” Her choppy words hurt my ears, but I understood them clearly.
“I thought I was alone. Nobody’s dead. My husband is blind. My marriage is falling apart. And I’ve never been so unhappy.” I embarrassingly sniveled out to a total stranger.
Salt and pepper hair belied the smoothness of her wrinkleless amber skin. Her brightly colored purple and green smock swept the floor. A minty strawberry aroma radiated from her petite frame. She raised her right arm and motioned with a sweeping ragdoll like gesture, “Puwblc rum, na?”
I exploded into laughter. She joined in. I told her my life story. I learned that she was from Paraguay. She and her husband were visiting their son and his wife who had just given birth to their first grandchild, a boy, born a few hours ago.
When, I told her that I needed to get back. She took a small note pad and pencil out of her purse. “Ths mke hum sey ageen,” she said.
My heart flipped in my chest. “What do you mean, make him see again?”
Looking past my eyes into my soul, she repeated. “Mke hum sey ageen.”
She wrote briefly, shoved the paper towards me. Without another word, or washing her hands, walked out.
Eli didn’t speak on the plane ride home that afternoon. He didn’t say a word during the forty-five minute drive from the airport. He refused to eat dinner and went straight to bed.
I took the note out of my purse. Read it for the first time. Are these herbs? Exact measurements and directions for brewing the tea were detailed at the bottom of the paper. I stuck the paper to the fridge with a smiling photo magnet of me and Eli. His sea green eyes were electric. Look at us, so happy. I smiled at what seemed like a lifetime away.
'Are you going to brew your husband a cup of tea with ingredients from a stranger? You only recognized one of the five ingredients. Do you really think this will cure his blindness?' I thought for a week. The more Eli slipped into despair, the more I heard the words ‘Mke hum sey ageen.’
After countless internet searches, two months later I had all five herbs. I pretended that I would tell Eli about the note, but I couldn’t. His scientific mind would never agree to drink a tea made from unknown, maybe even poisonous aromatic plants.
I felt Eli pushing me away, more and more each day. Exactly three months, two weeks, five days, and eleven hours after meeting the stranger. Desperately, I brewed a cup of the tea and served it to him.
“This is quite tasty, Anna.” Eli spoke to me for the first time in three days.
“I’m glad you like it. I got the recipe from a little old lady I met at the hospital.”
“How about another cup?”
“Eli, that’s all of it.”
“All of it?” He asked in disbelief.
“I drank it all. I’m sorry.” I lied. Actually, I didn’t drink any. The instructions were very clear, ONE CUP ONLY!
We laughed and talked like old times. I went to bed happy for the first time in three years.
Eli awoke violently ill, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and a fever. In a panic, I ran down stairs, snatched the note of the fridge, and flushed it down the toilet. I emptied the herbs down the sink. Ran outside and put the containers in the trash. Racing back upstairs, I helped Eli take a cold shower.
Terror stricken, I checked his temperature a few minutes later.
“Eli, I’ve got to get you to the hospital, you’re burning up.”
“Anna, let’s give it a few hours,” he said taking a seat on the side of the bed.
“You don’t understand.” I dropped to my knees and began to sob. The words spewed out. I told him everything. I saw his body go still as he fell backwards onto the bed. I slumped to the floor in misery.
After what seemed like an hour. Eli called in excitement, “Anna!”
I rushed towards him in disbelief that he was okay.
“Stop,” he said and raised his hands in front of his face.
“Now, walk to the door and back.” I obeyed.
“Are those the pink and green pajamas I got you in Florida?”
“Yes, Anna. I can see.”