LIVING in a boarding house can teach one a lot about the real meaning of independence. As early as first year high school, I learned practical lessons like budgeting my whole week’s allowance and food supplies and make decisions for myself.
Life in a boarding house can also teach one to get on with other boardmates who come from all walks of life. Adjustments are hard at first but later on, all of you became one big family with the usual squabbles of who left the back door open the whole night, or whose wet shoes splashed mud all over the living room floor — all of you had cleaned at assigned schedules, or even who left your soap swimming in a pool of water in the bathroom.
Way back in college, I lived in a boarding house just across the school. I was alone in my room but I shared the living room and the kitchen with seven other boarders from different places. It took only a short period of adjustments before all of us became close to each other and started to consider each one as family.
One night, my boardmate named Jean from Parang, Maguindanao had a loose bowel movement (LBM) attack. The “ginataang nangka” which another boardmate brought that afternoon apparently did not agree with her. I gave her a couple of diabtabs tablets, but after many more trips to the comfort room, the pain still have not abated.
At around midnight, Jean was getting weaker and weaker from her uncountable trips to the comfort room. She was also getting paler so we panicked and decided to take her to the school clinic just about 300 meters away.
The clinic practically swarmed with midwifery student interns. I sat with Jean on a bench while another boardmate, Rosalyn supplied the necessary information for the admittance forms.
About six student interns took turns asking Jean what the matter was and I was getting impatient because I was the one answering their questions for Jean.
When the nurse on duty who took Jean’s records left her table, a midwifery intern materialized out of nowhere and studied the charts left by the nurse.
She then got a thermometer and told Jean to put it in her underarms. As Jean was suffering, she booked no arguments but meekly obeyed.
I raised my eyebrows but before I could voice out my question why a thermometer is needed when it was LBM Jean was suffering from, the student intern brushed me off and looked at me as though I was an ignorant being from another world.
I was about to tell her off when Jean’s face contorted. She needed another trip to the comfort room. I accompanied her.
Five minutes after we were back on the bench, the haughty intern removed the thermometer, held it up and gasped, “Oh my God, I better give you a sponge bath. You’ve got a burning fever!”
Jean and I looked at each other, confusion etched on our faces.
“But miss,” I startled.
“Look, it’s 39.8 C!,” she interrupted as she held up the thermometer for me to see.
I grabbed the thermometer and was puzzled because the intern was right. Jean was supposed to have a burning fever.
At that instant, the nurse on duty came back and after assessing the situation cooly said, “Connie (the intern), that’s the temperature I’ve taken from the patient in Room 205!.”
I looked with triumphant eyes at the intern who minutes-before acted as if I were from another planet. I swear only a fresh attack of pain had prevented Jean from bursting into laughter.