Don’t ask me what I was thinking undergoing fertility treatment in India. Here’s an excerpt from the memoir I am currently penning.
The nurse points to the bathroom door at the end of the short corridor, “Pass urine.”
Donning the pair of worn, communal rubber sandals placed at the doorway, I enter the washroom. The floor is wet. The floor is always wet. The surfaces are soiled. Stale urine suffocates the air. I remove a fistful of tissues from my handbag to replace the non-existent toilet paper and I squat over the hole in the floor to empty my bladder in preparation for the procedure. A bucket of water sits adjacent and a small cracked jug bobs on the surface in readiness to flush the toilet.
Exiting the bathroom, I sit rigidly on the rickety chair in the hallway, stagnant in the quietness of the sparse corridor. My fingers drum a quick beat against my thighs and break the stillness. My breath is shallow. A nurse yanks aside the curtain shielding the matchbox-size theatre and the plastic drapery rings play a frantic tune on the metal rod, while the semi-naked patient inside scrambles to cover herself with a robe. The nurse’s dark pinball eyes take aim at me. “Madam Sarah.” Her voice is surly. “Remove innerwear.”
Entering the curtained cave, I slide my underpants down my legs.
“Hang,” the nurse points to a rusted nail hammered into the wall. It’s the Indian version of a clothes hook.
My knickers now drape conspicuously from the bare wall at eye level, like a haunting piece of artwork. I climb onto the old-fashioned, metal-framed bed and lie on my back with my hips elevated on a hard pillow. The nurse throws a suspect looking sheet over me. In fact, the whole thing is suspect. I don’t know when the gown I am wearing was last washed, much less the yellowing bed sheet. Medical instruments on a nearby bench are housed in a crusty, old cut-off milk carton.