Sunday, November 2, 2008

Constipation – Pashtun warriors and me

Constipation – Pashtun warriors and me

Stewart Sloan

One of the most common problems amongst dialysis patients, as any one of them will tell you, is the very strict diet they have to adhere to. Depending on the severity of the affliction, often they are allowed only 500ml of water a day. This is because their bodies cannot handle fluids and any excess can build up in their lungs and cause a dangerous respiratory problem. A side effect of the strict diet and minimal fluid intake is constipation. My wife, who suffered renal failure four years ago, occasionally suffers from this and uses glycerin suppositories.

A few months ago as I was leaving for work on a Saturday morning my wife asked me to buy another packet of suppositories for her. As we were chatting before I left she also explained another problem, dry, painful skin around the nostrils. I recalled that a friend of mine suffered a similar problem and he treated it with a dab of Vaseline. I promised to buy her a packet of suppositories and a small jar of Vaseline and left for work.

A word of explanation: I go into the office on Saturday mornings to take care of any last minute emergencies (quite common in the human rights field) and tidy up any outstanding work. It is a good chance to work without interruption and enjoy an hour or two of peace and quiet.

On my arrival in the office this particular morning the very first thing I noticed was a green wallet lying on the floor. It was hard to ignore. I picked it up. It was made of soft green leather and was absolutely packed with money! “Oh Lord”, I prayed. “Don’t let there be an ID card.”

Of course there was. The owner of the wallet was a Pakistani gentleman named Ravi, who was a student with the Hong Kong University. There was a Hong Kong ID, a student ID, a Pakistani ID and a driving license. The man was firmly and positively identified.

As we have a Pakistani gentleman working at the office I called him to ask if he recognised the name and he explained that the fellow was in a panic, thinking that he had dropped his wallet in the street. I told my colleague to contact Ravi, tell him that I had his wallet and to come in and pick it up. As there was a Monday holiday, if he didn’t get it that day he would have to go for three days without any money or ID, bad enough for anyone in Hong Kong but for a foreigner definitely fraught with danger. I was told that Ravi would be in the office within the hour.

I carried on with my work and after about 45 minutes there was a knock on the door. I opened it to find the epitome of the original Pashtun warrior. This gentleman was six foot seven if he was an inch and had a short cropped, jet black beard and piercing eyes. The only things missing were the sword and the long muzzle loader. This was Ravi.

We went through a chorus of ‘thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you,’ and me going ‘OK, OK, OK, OK, OK, etc.’ He then put his hand on the broad expanse of his chest and said, “Allow me to buy you some food!” I thanked Ravi profusely, assured him that it was not a problem returning the wallet and hoped that this would end the meeting. He then said the magic words: “Then at least allow me to buy you some beer.” And I said, “OK”.

I packed up, closed up and we went to the nearest 7/11 and became acquainted over a few cans of Carlsberg. Then we got further acquainted over a few more cans of Carlsberg. Ravi, when we got past the ‘thank you’ stage was articulate, erudite, knowledgeable and very well educated. He was fascinated by life in Hong Kong and asked endless questions about the society and life style. All in all he was a genuine, pleasant person. And the more beer I drank the taller and broader he seemed to grow.

It was time for me to go and I started making excuses about how I had to get home to my wife, who was unwell. Ravi was genuinely concerned to hear this and I then explained her health situation over another round of beer. Finally I had to leave and explained to Ravi that I was going to take the train from Mongkok KCR station. Ravi put his hand on his heart and said, “I will accompany you to the station.”

Somewhat worse for wear after seven beers I made my way in the direction of the Mongkok KRC in the company of my very own Pashtun warrior.

At one point we were crossing the road and my mobile phone rang. It was my wife, remember my wife, this is an article about my wife. She asked me where I was and also whether I had bought her suppositories. I mumbled something about having just left the office and assured her that I was on my way at that very moment to buy her pharmaceuticals. Actually it wasn’t a lie for directly in front of us was a dispensary.

And it was here that everything went wrong. I entered, my six foot, seven inch Pashtun warrior at my side and said, quite innocently to the shopkeeper, “May I have a packet of glycerin suppositories and a small jar of Vaseline.” The shopkeeper looked at me, looked up at my Pashtun warrior, who, under the effects of seven cans of Carlsberg was gazing down at me fondly, and then back at me. His faced quivered and he tried hard to suppress the smirk that was even then creeping across it. He took my money wrapped up my purchases and gave me my change. Once again he looked at me, up at the warrior and then shrugged his shoulders.

“Hey,” he said. “It’s none of my business.” And at that point he gave up all pretext of not laughing. I looked up at my Pashtun warrior and sighed. We left the shop in gales of laughter.


marshall said...

Hello well the constipation is terrible i suffer of this and is hell for me a cant go to the bathroom and when i go nothing happens is terrible there is any cure there cause i just found the cure for the overweight that is medifast diet plan with this you will feel better in no time .

Anonymous said...

It is indeed a terrible condition, I have noticed the after I buy viagra that always get constipated.