Vignettes No. 1

I.

3 AM. The nurse lays down the cannula and plain NSS bottle on the counter. I go to Bed 37 to establish an IV line. The patient is scheduled for surgery in a few hours. "Magandang umaga, Doc," she says, smiling at me. Beside her is a Nokia cellphone that plays what is unmistakably an Aiza Seguerra song.

"Ang ganda ng music mo, ah. Sabi ng ibang mga pasyente, kamukha ko raw ang singer niyan." Her eyes brighten up. The resemblance must be striking.

II.

Stuck inside the OR for the entire day, I receive a text message from my older brother. He's on his way to Boracay for an outing, and he's asking for prayers. It takes a true calling to be a doctor to text back, "Yes, I will. Have a safe and fun trip!" For a few minutes I harbor some bitterness—that life is unfair, why am I trapped here?—but the surgery on the floor of the mouth and neck is too good to miss, so much so that the promise of a beach weekend pales in comparison.

III.

The Nobel Committee has announced that Alice Munro has won the this year's Prize for Literature. I'm speed-reading through the collection, Dear Life, which she has said will be her last. She is 80-plus years old. The first story, To Reach Japan, is so good I figured it would be an injustice if I read it in a hurry. The best way to finish a good book in the shortest time possible is to read it slowly and munch on every detail, because then you'd get lost in the author's imagination, and time flies so fast you'd barely notice it anymore.

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