“Mr Olivier. Mr Olivier! Can you hear me?”

The voice calling my name sounds far away.

“Mr Olivier. Mr Olivier. Can you hear me?”

Kitty? It must be checkout time at the shelter already.

“Mr Olivier. Mr Olivier. Can you hear me?”

“I hear–” My voice croaks. “Where am I?”

“Hospital, Mr Olivier.” I open my eyes. It’s a nurse talking to me.

“What happened? Why am I here?”

“Ambulance brought you in. You were stabbed.”

That Chicken. The pain in my side. Now I’ve got no money for the shelter.

The nurse tells me I staggered to the mall entrance and collapsed. Mall security called for an ambulance.

The nurse places a clear plastic bag at my feet. “These are your belongings.”

My eyes jerk to the bag. My backpack. “My ID? My notebook?”

“It’s all in there.”

Of course, that’s how she knows my name.

The porter wheels me down the long, icy corridors to the ward. I must have last been in a hospital on the day I was born.

I groan and wince as the porter helps me onto the bed, then feel the cool breeze. Jirrie, my bum is open for all to see in this hospital gown – a full moon in broad daylight.

Glancing around the ward, I notice six of the eight beds are occupied. Some patients are sleeping, one is reading, and another slouched and snoring in the chair at his bedside. The porter’s about to turn away. “What’s the time, please?”

He grins and points to a clock hanging on the wall behind the nurses’ station. “Twenty after 12. Almost lunch time.”

Lunch. I haven’t eaten in over 12 hours and my stomach grumbles in protest.

“Mr Olivier,” a nurse says, as she wheels an upright machine to my bed, “I need to take your blood pressure and temperature.” She slips a cuff, attached to the machine, around my arm, flicks a few switches and the cuff inflates while the machine hums and beeps. She also sticks a thermometer in my armpit. “Relax, please.”

“When can I leave?” I say, as she checks my blood pressure.

Her face whips up and she clicks her tongue. “Haibo. You just got here. Doctor will decide tomorrow when you are fit to leave, so make yourself comfortable. You’ll be staying overnight. You’ve got a bit of a fever.”

A free meal and a warm bed? Jackpot!

Lunch arrives. “U kos, meneer,” one of the kitchen aides says and places a tray on the table next to the bed.

“Baie dankie.”

I’m starving and the samp and gooey stew seem like a feast.

The nurse comes again after lunch. “Time for meds, Mr Olivier.”

It’s the same woman from earlier. She smiles and looks like she enjoys her work. My Ma always said: ‘Even if you clean someone’s toilets for a living, you should take pride in what you do’.

“Huh uh, sister.” I raise my head and shake it, “I don’t do drugs.”

“Hayi, Mr Olivier, you need the antibiotics for the fever and infection. It’s through the mouth, or” – she pats her backside – “my personal favourite.”

Man, I think she’s messing with me, but I don’t want to find out. She enjoys her job way too much.


Tell us: Ollie was relieved his ID was safe. Why is it so very important to have an ID – including if you are homeless?