It was a small clinic. I was tied to an IV in its wee private room. Doctors there were (and still are) mother’s friends. My airway passage inflammation was observed for days and treated over their friendly chats. Mother also exchanged hellos with the cleaning staff. Close-knit community.
A lad with a mop passed by my room while the door was ajar. He looked at me intently before stepping out of view. I decided he was no stalker so I worried about missing classes. Damn bronchitis.
There’s Jabes, an all-around guy who charms the nurses but dates my cousin who minds the clinic till. In church he sits a couple of pews behind ours. Jabes’s eyes disappear when he smiles. One afternoon he dropped by my room to chat with my mother. ‘Church stuff,’ I guessed while wondering about Geometry and Adnan Khashoggi.
Someone surfaced after Jabes. It was Mop lad. Timidly he made himself brief. Movements in my room turned hazy but something was clear as it was handed to me. For a minute I forgot how the heck would I tie arms dealership with that serious congruence between Angle A and Angle B.
“Creative!” mother enthused with appreciation. The thing dangled and swayed like a pendulum of a cuckoo clock. It had a tiny head resembling a scarecrow playing cute. The bushy tail convexed into bottom fixtures of a crystal chandelier. Recognizing what mother meant by creative, I realized what it was – IV tube cut into thin strips and crafted into a lovely key holder. Mop lad had skillful hands.
Why would he make one and give it to me? Jabes’s eyes reduced to slits. He was proud of Mop lad who had gone after handing the gift. I was unable to thank him personally although my mother was.
Being an only child, I was a bit pampered when it came to gifts. Even some of my parents’ friends kind of followed the cue. Barbie dolls kept coming until sophomore high.
But an IV tube key holder was a gift so unique, so unexpected and given by someone I so didn’t know that it still haunts me to this day.