A caffeinated drive down


The ending of the story

Returning from the top, my slumber had passed and in a drowsy state I let my stubbornness fade and at last agreed to seek medical help. Waqas had swiftly deviated his mocking jesting into genuine concern and was on the fence whether to continue his banter. He had persuaded me to go to the doctor, despite part of me still believing it would pass. Since not even Ahmed, the fastest driver of Pakistan’s North was capable of getting to the capital within the coming and passing of the night, a small town in the mountains had to suffice. After some hours of adequate driving pass, we entered said town and through the noisy and crowded streets we zigzagged to our motel of the night. According to our driver, from here, it ought to be possible to return to the home of Waqas if driving from dawn til dusk, given that breaks are kept to a minimum and he drove his foot into the pedal. We unloaded the car before heading to the chilling and bare hospital. The moment I set foot into the grim building had been when I felt a slight terror overcome me.

The only doctor speaking clear English had asked me a few questions before giving his diagnose in Urdu. “It is food poisoning”, Waqas had told me. Surprised, I followed the doctor waving me into a small room with five rinky-dink beds. All this time, I had confidently been surefire on it being altitude sickness and that alone. Perhaps it played a role, with the banging headaches, the dizziness and resulted in an upchuck at the top, however I had not been able to explain my peculiar and sudden distaste for roti. Even the sight of it would cause a revulsion. Nor did my theory explain the flowing of liquids, if you pardon my French. Though it had relieved me of a burden to have a name to it and with that a treatment, when all filling the tiny hospital room was the talking of Urdu and someone was about to inject me I had gotten more than a little fearsome. My eyes had wandered around and I felt to be in a rapidly set up tent with a doctor going surgical on me using make-shift tools. A blunt, septic knife would cut into me and leave harmful bacteria to fester inside. I’d have loved to be another body on the Killer mountain than to be found dead on this economic bed with an unsterilized syringe in my body.

Calming my hysteria, Waqas explained they had to put me on IV as I was dehydrated and that the other bag was full of antibiotics. Admittedly, they, him and the driver, had fear in their eyes as well. Not for any unsterilized syringes, but the place itself. It reeked of death and had an ambience that was sombre. It felt raunchy with poor condition equipment. I felt a pity for the man in the bed next to me, in a state much worse than I, he shared the same budget hospital with scarce heating. However it is what one can expect to find here. I know relatives who believe with the confidence of a matador that this is like any other hospital outside of “superior” Western countries and I know I have thought such at times. However, logic has it that the days drive away from any large city, in the harsh conditions the mountainous North has to offer, a hospital won’t be loaded with luxurious and expensive tools. Nonetheless, the two paced back and forth in distress close to pumping the antibiotics and water in themselves. Then, a young kid came rushed in after an accident and blood was flowing. With that, I wondered how many have passed away in this exact room, or in this exact bed due to insufficient funds and accessibility and despite the lack of religion I prayed for the seemingly dying man next to me and the wounded kid a bed further.

On our way back, Ahmed pulled the car over to purchase a cluster of minuscule bananas and advised me to have as many as possible. Both of them had been a huge help, running up and down for medicines, porridge, bananas and anything to have me regain strength. Something I required after all the lost weight following the skipped meals and flowing of liquids. Would I have been any skinnier than I was then, bones would begin poking through my skin. But, once the sun started shining again and we were on the road home, I blissfully checked this ill-being to be another experience and reminisced the past days. Ahmed had put his driver’s gloves back on and with only brief breaks took us on a chai-incited, meandering drive down of fifteen hours. With all three on the verge of sleep, Ahmed parted with a day’s rest oncoming before doing it all over again and to this day, I admire the underpaid worker.

For those wanting information and details on locations, contacts and so on, feel free to hit me up!