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The waiting room

The time was ripe. A kind of internal infection, apparently caused by a hair that grew inside my shoulder, a small bump that has been there for years, sometimes inflamed and painful, most often nothing but a tiny aesthetic disaster that didn’t bother me.

Recently, it inflamed again, got bigger and uglier than ever before. And with the help of an ointment, an odourous greasy substance, it finally broke open, and the first pus in years erupted from my shoulder. Allelujah praise the Lord!

So me to the doctor. In the waiting room, I was surrounded by a black family. Their frequent banter (or what I presumed to be banter) and laugher made me smile. Quite diffferent from the white neighbours with worrisome faces. I felt like intervening. ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Ethiopia.’ I loved to listen to their language, their soft and melodious way of talking. Not at all like the loud boisterous WMBOLEM WE TOKOO NBENGE! that I hear so often yelled through a mobile phone (I sometimes wonder why they need a phone at all. I’m sure the other side could understand them just as well without).

A smooth language. Comparable to the Iranian language, so different from the other ‘Middle Eastern’ languages, spitting ACHHH all the time as if continuously clearing their throat. I’m not surprised that their women are soooo beautiful. There must be a relation between language and soft curves … But I’m dreaming now. Back to reality!

I once saw a video on TED by an Ethiopian-American woman employing natural sounds and words – and even silence – as rudiments for her music. One word she had used was ‘edee-EH!?’ Really!? Is that true!? Come on, you’re kidding!! Something like that. It was her favourite word as a kid.

What a beautiful, musical word! You should see the video below to hear it (to convince men: it’s quite a hot woman). What a glorious, prolonged inflection! It stuck in my ears.

Hence I said them I knew one Ethiopian word. They all turned to me. ‘Edee-EH!?’ They were stunned. A slightly wet sigh of amazement escaped their eyes. I must have been the first Flemish guy to sling them back to childhood (I was lucky they spoke the ‘main’ language in Ethiopia because that country has more than 80 languages apparently). Yes, I felt proud! So we started to talk, me with one of the men. The women listening a bit shy, deferential. About Ethiopia, the many languages there, the terrific climate (well, most of the time), the well-organised Belgium and some other places.

My turn, finally. It must have been twelve o’clock already. I’m sorry for the long wait, the doctor said routineously. That’s OK, I said, and smiled. I had a nice time! But back to the pus in my shoulder now.

She knew all about that small bump on my shoulder, has witnessed and treated it from the beginning. First with antibiotics. After that, I treated it with essential oils that worked just as well. And said her she could ‘GO TO HELL!!!’ with her antibiotics, in a kind way, of course.

So I did my story. ‘Now this is good news! Finally it opens! Yeah it’s erupting!’ Time to remove all that rubbish! So she eagerly took her scalpel and started to tear all the rubbish out of my shoulder, including a SEBACEOUS GLAND (I never knew I had such things), she teared and I yelled but please DON’T STOP before everything is gone! I’m still breathing, go for it doc. Being proud of her work, she showed me the results. BWEEK! Then it was time to add a wedge, soaked in Isobetadine, to slurp all the remaining puss.

‘It’s a 10 cm wedge’, she said. I said ‘Edee-EH???!!! Come on. Is there a hole like a waterwell, going from my shoulder to my elbow or my nipple or whatever?’ ‘Nono, the wedge is kind of a rolled-up spiral.’ still, I felt glad this was all happening behind my back. Some things you don’t want to see. At least not me.

Time to take the bus home, relieved and somewhat lighter.


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