The medical orderlies and nurses came to get dad for the operation. The elevator was too small for all of us. They took the elevator. Mom, sis and I, we took the stairs, a floor down to the operation theatre. They stopped us at the door. That was as far as we were allowed to go. Dad was wheeled into the operation theatre. It was 9:30 am.
We were told to wait at the waiting area at the exit of the operation theatre. There were few stiff wooden chairs and a slouchy old couch. Why are all the waiting areas at the hospital so bare minimum, so awful, so grey? Good thing it was well lit, but still it’s lifeless. And worst still, hopeless.
So, the waiting begun. We sat around quietly and talked occasionally. A family friend was there waiting with mom, keeping her company. I flipped the magazine pages. Everyone fidgeted endlessly at their seats, trying to find that comfortable spot at the uncomfortable seat. Everyone tried looking at the clock, tried looking at the clock and not letting the rest knowing. The waiting was painfully slow, excruciatingly so.
The doctor said the surgery should take about 2 hours. By 11:30 am, the doors remained shut and still. If time had been inching by so very slowly for the last two hours, it was now zooming by at light years speed. Time could be healing but time could be so cruel at times. Everyone looked at the clock more frequently, wondering why was it taking so long. The minds were ravaged by an emotional tsunami, but the body must remain calm and collected. It was draining.
I remembered an afternoon during my high school years, I got so frustrated waiting for dad to fetch me home. Time ticked by annoyingly sluggish. I hated waiting. I still do. The afternoon heat was unbearable. It was hot, I was angry. I got so mad looking at the second ticked by on my watch, I yanked it off, started whipping in on the wall. I just kept going at it. Time finally stopped. I broke that bloody watch. I remembered dad bought me that watch.
Then there was one evening I waited for dad to pick me up after a tuition class. It was early evening when the class ended. I waited for about 2 hours and he have not showed up still. I started walking. To walk home, I think it’d take me a good two hours. It was getting dark, but I just kept walking. But I remembered very vividly I was calm, extraordinarily calm. My pace was slow and steady, in no way hasty. I was strolling in fact, almost leisurely. I was so calm that evening, to this day I’m still surprise at myself, why had I not erupted furiously? So did my sister Y, who came rushing, found me walking by the road. She pulled over, I got on the car. We drove home silently.
How I was hoping for that unperturbed calmness be upon me as I was fidgeting at the slouchy couch, waiting restlessly. But it never came.
The door suddenly opened. They wheeled dad out. He was groggy and exhausted from the surgery. The doctor said everything went well. We let out a collective sigh of relief.
It was 12:30 pm.