noun: a feeling of fear or anxiety about something that may happen
That’s the feeling I had in this pic. It was my first day in Lesotho and I had just walked into the clinic 10 minutes before. I was there for MSF to film an HIV video on Adherence, but as I strolled into the consulting room, the nursed looked up –
– Are you a doctor? Can you please suture this woman?
-Before I could answer, the cameraman says
– Yes he is, he can do it.
The patient is about 20 years old but the age was difficult to judge. She was HIV positive on treatment but this was the least of her worries.
I asked her to remove the sheet covering her head and she looked embarrrased/ashamed as she showed the 7cm gash on her head. I had seen that same look in Khayelitsha, Paarl Hospital and GF Jooste Hospital. Fear and shame.
The laceration was deep but with no fracture and it came courtesy of her knob-kerrie wielding husband.
Yes – he was drunk
Yes – he had done it before
and yes – she was afraid to go back.
Gender-based violence. We often give clean words to capture and control the harsh realities we see. To anaesthetise ourselves. So we can do the job.
I do the job. Prep, clean, stitch (no tension), nurse..cut please. Feels familiar now and I am comfortable;
but her trepidation..still hangs in the air.