He arrived alone, a thin man in a white shirt with light blue checks, the top buttons undone. He matched the shirt with shorts and slippers and his hair was uncombed.
Had he fasted? the radiation therapist asked. Yes, since 6 am. That’s more than 3 hours, she said, so we can see you next.
When he finished, he told the therapist he had a fever every afternoon. He declined her suggestion to see the doctor on duty.
You can call for an appointment with your doctor anytime, she said. You don’t have an appointment now but you can call and make one if you need. The number is on your card, let me show you.
I have so many questions. The shirt was too loose, was it someone’s discard or was it his own shirt and he’d lost weight? Does he have family? Does he know how ill he is? How does he cope? Who made the appointment for radiation therapy? Why doesn’t he have another appointment?
On another day at the clinic, there was another old chap. I slowly realised he was actually chaperoned by two nursing home staff who sat far apart from him.
He looked like any other patient waiting his turn except he echoed what he heard in a soft, high-pitched voice. When the nurse called a patient’s name, he would repeat the name in his falsetto. When the appointment board chimed, he would echo that too, “Bing Bong!”
I can still hear him, “Bing Bong!”