Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Not strangers, but not friends

There’s a Chinese restaurant I like to eat at. The woman there is from Hong Kong and we get along well. She is cheerful and has a loud but pleasant voice. I also know that she likes to go clothes shopping. Of course, she always stops at my table to talk to me. Today she is wearing a black, sleeveless shirt. On the inside of her upper left arm I notice heavy bruising. It appears almost like thumb prints. I am suspicious. While she’s talking to me I also look at her right arm. There are also light bruises along the back of her upper right arm. Her bruises seem consistent with physical abuse.

I point to her left arm and ask her what happened. I suspect domestic violence and so I am expecting one of two answers. Either she ‘fell down the stairs’ or she ‘fell in the bathroom’. She pretends she had not noticed the heavy bruising and then laughs and gives me the second answer. I fake a laugh and tell her to be more careful. I don’t ask about the bruises on her right arm. Poor thing.

I’m sad because I can’t really help her unless she asks me for help. You see, although we are not strangers, we are not quite friends either. I’m not scared to get involved in such things but I have also learned, over the years, that people’s private lives are complicated. It is not for me to decide the solutions to their problems. Interfering would embarrass her and probably cause her even more trouble at home. All I can do is to appear cheerful and oblivious.

- Just a peasant

Photo of sunset over the university hospital