It was after ten that evening when Anathi walked into Karabo’s ward. The hospital had officially admitted Karabo and moved her from the emergency rooms to the general women’s ward. Isla and William were waiting for the orthopaedic surgeon to arrive and explain what was going to happen next. Isla pulled her chair close to Karabo’s bed and lay her head on the bed, as she drifted in and out of sleep. William had drunk five cups of coffee over the course of the afternoon, and was pacing the ward passage like a caged tiger.

‘Isla?’ whispered Anathi, gently shaking Isla’s shoulder. ‘Honey are you OK?’ she asked kindly. Isla lifted her head slowly, feeling like her brain weighed a hundred kilograms.

‘Anathi,’ whispered Isla, relief flooding her stiff body. Karabo’s mom was finally here and would now take charge. As she stood up and hugged Anathi, she watched William over the small woman’s shoulders. William was holding two cups of coffee. He cleared his throat loudly.

‘Coffee?’ he asked Anathi.

“William,’ said Anathi, letting go of Isla and turning to him. ‘You are a life saver! Bringing Karabo here, and coffee just when I need it. Thank you,’ she said, gratitude spreading across her

face, as she took the coffee cup and slurped the coffee through its plastic lid.

‘No problem Anathi,’ William smiled, before handing Isla the other cup of coffee.

‘How are you?’ Anathi asked Isla, turning and peering into Isla’s tired face.

‘I’m OK. Been crazy Anathi.’

‘I can only imagine. Thank you for staying with her,’ Anathi said, as they both turned to look at Karabo. As she let Isla go, Anathi reached for Karabo. ‘My baby,’ she cooed softly. Anathi’s pinstriped suit was crumpled, and the zip at the back of her skirt was off centre. Her work stilettos had been replaced by flat travelling pumps, and her usually perfect hair was ruffled. When she looked back up at Isla, her eyes were wet and her mascara was smudged.

Isla had never seen Anathi like this before. Anathi was a classic A-type, and always looked great, worked hard and seemed to have everything under control. Isla watched Anathi swallow her emotions and take charge. ‘Right! Isla darling, where is the surgeon, this Dr Anand?’

‘I’m here,’ responded a man’s voice from behind them. Isla and Anathi jerked round in surprise and turned to see where the voice had come from. A tall man, with thick black hair, stood smiling at them from the door. His large almond eyes twinkled, and his smile made a dimple in his left cheek. He strode over   to Anathi, hand extended. ‘Dr Vihaan Anand,’ he stated, firmly shaking Anathi’s hand.

‘Anathi Mavuso,’ she replied, straightening herself so she stood ever so slightly taller.

Isla noticed their handshake lingering a little longer than necessary. Once their hands had returned to their sides, Dr Anand walked over to Karabo’s bed. ‘Let’s have a look at the x-rays first’, he said, pulling the x-rays out of an envelope at the foot of her bed, before clipping them into the light box on the opposite wall. The bright white box lit up, and Karabo’s bones came to life. As Dr Anand examined Karabo’s x-ray he asked, ‘How old is she?’

‘Sixteen,’ responded Isla and Anathi in unison. They turned and smiled at each other.

‘Hmm,’ replied Dr Anand, as he continued to examine the x-rays. ‘And how did this happen?’ he asked.

‘It was at hockey,’ explained Anathi, as she turned to Isla. ‘Isla, can you tell the doctor more?’ she asked, her face encouraging Isla to recount the story. Isla felt cold and looked down at the floor. ‘I, well, I didn’t really see what happened. But from what everyone said, Lara, the goal keeper… well, she ran Karabz down when she was trying to score a goal. It was during practice this afternoon,’ explained Isla, lifting her face slowly to look at Anathi. Isla knew instantly that Anathi was definitely going to find out more about Lara, and possibly take this further. ‘It was an accident, we were just practising,’ stumbled Isla, feeling sorry for Lara now that she’d told Anathi. ‘Hmmm,’ came Dr Anand’s response. He seemed completely unaware of the discomfort between Isla and Anathi, and continued to examine the x-ray.

‘Well, it’s irrelevant I suppose. We need to deal with this tonight,’ he explained, pulling a pen from his shirt pocket to point to the x-ray. ‘You can see here, and here, and here, oh… and here too,’ explained Dr Anand. As he pointed to bones that definitely looked broken, Isla couldn’t figure out where the one bone ended and the other began. She nodded, nonetheless.

Anathi moved closer towards the light box to get a better view. Her hand moved to cover her mouth as she stared at the x-ray. ‘So, what we are going to do is join these bones here, and we may have to put a pin in her wrist here… mmm, yes, more than likely. Once we open up the arm, I will make a final call,’ said Dr Anand, not looking at Anathi.

‘A… a pin?’ asked Anathi, her voice small and her face contorted with worry.

‘Yes, nothing serious, it comes out eventually,’ said Dr Anand jovially, finally turning to look at Anathi. Isla watched him register the fear and concern in Anathi’s face. ‘I assure you Mrs Mavuso, we will take excellent care of her. I have seen arms in far worse conditions than this and they have recovered perfectly. She will have full mobility in six months’ time,’ he predicted, his accent giving away his private school education. Isla could tell he was probably making the situation worse.

‘Six months?’ stammered Anathi, ‘but provincial trials are in a few weeks.’

‘Well, I’m afraid no more hockey for your daughter this season. She has to rehabilitate her wrist,’ explained Dr Anand, rather matter-of-factly. Isla shuddered to think how this prognosis was going to affect and upset her friend.

***

Question: What do you think of Dr Anand?