Love and squalor on Christmas Day

Nurses asked in the morning if I’d have any visitors today – I said I’m not expecting anyone. I said Emma came from work yesterday, the work’s been super supportive, I said. Everyone been asking. But a few hours later I went back inside the ward’s office room to ask if I can go out a bit later when Sebastian comes for a visit. The African nurse with the curly kinky ponytail in her late forties said that should be alright. I said: “Thanks Amy”. She said: “You’ve been here for over a week and you still don’t know my name, Saeed?” I said I’m bad with the names. She showed me her badge. It was clearly written Rita. 

I had told Sebastian not to come for a visit over the Christmas now that he lives with his parents while I’m in hospital. The overground isn’t working, it’s over 15 miles away and I said it doesn’t make any sense at all. By the early afternoon, he texted to say he’s coming – his dad is driving him here even though the police had come for the forensics earlier after their car been broken into. 

Sebastian arrived around the time Her Majesty began to address her annual Christmas speech. I could clearly hear the Queen saying “closer to home, it’s been a busy year for my family, with two weddings and two babies, and another child expected soon. It helps to keep a grandmother well occupied” as I controlled my pace to walk towards Sebastian sitting on the red leather sofa not far from the TV in the living room, where everyone else were glued to the screen. Sebastian was glued to me approaching him – almost fell over him, embraced him, gave him a kiss, thanked him for coming all the way on Christmas Day just to see me. It means over three hours of him and his dad out of their home on Christmas Day. His dad stayed outside in the car. Sebastian brought some chocolate his sister had bought for both of us, some fruits he knew I liked and a piece of other things, too. But most importantly, he brought himself. 

I asked Rita if we could go out. Before Sebastian came I asked another nurse – who turned out to be Amy – to help me with my name forgetfulness. I asked her to ask Sebastian about his dad in a way that he would reveal his dad’s name, so that I could hear and re-remember without being humiliated in front of Sebastian that I can’t recall his dad’s name.

Rita accompanied us, but tried to keep an arm’s length in distance. I told Sebastian that in spite of being here, and all that I went through, it’s been the best Christmas of my life. For the first time someone I love – and who loves me back reciprocally – is spending some time with me for Christmas, even though in hospital. Christmas never meant anything to this exiled being until this year. Three of us went to the nearby off license close to the hospital where I bought crips and a yoghurt drink and some chewing gums. On our way back, we met Sebastian’s dad – Saul – who hugged and kissed me on the cheek like I’m his son to say they missed me for the holidays and that it was a pleasure to bring Sebastian here to see me.

As they left, Rita said “they love you, Saeed”. I said “yes, I’m quite lucky”.

I asked Rita what’s wrong with most people in this country and why the country is in the state it is now. She said they don’t have this in here, as she pointed her fingers towards her heart. Rita, from Ghana, has four kids – all of whom live with her except the oldest living with his girlfriend. I asked what made you so happy in life, Rita, even though you’re here on Christmas Day taking care of me. She said her dad. “Oh, my dad always smiled.” He lives back in Ghana.

As we got back inside the ward, the ITV had moved on from a documentary about Prince Harry to the BBC showing a documentary depicting Duchess of Cambridge. The American said: “I bet the questions she’s asked on screen are pre-approved”. I did not comment. The English was still glued to the TV. I asked if he liked the Queen. He said: “Oh yes.” I said why is it that this ward is in the situation that it is now – the place, though ranked outstanding countrywide, looks as if has been badly in need of refurbishment since I was born in 1985. I said ok, NHS is good, but even hospitals in my country have better sanitary quality. The English disagreed. He said Princess Anne is a patron to this hospital.

As I went to take my stuff to my room, I told Rita “thank you for taking me and Sebastian out for a walk”. She smiled back. Her smile sank in.

(This is a fictional diary written by me while being in hospital. Any resemblance to people in real life is merely a coincidence.)