Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Squatting On My Heels
Long long ago and far away, when I was 21-23, I spent a couple years in what is now Bangladesh. This was in 1967-1969. I used my time there well, doing independent study in my college subjects, writing in journals, intensively learning to play guitar.
I got a job after a little while in country working for the Medical Mission Sisters as they ran Holy Family Hospital, the only hospital in all of Dacca, now spelled Dhaka. I was in charge of handling their cash, a position they named Financial Secretary. They wanted a Westerner's hands on the cash as they felt I would not want to steal from them. I answered to Sr. Yolande Landry, who gave me this financial part of her double job while she kept the hospital outreach and community placement for herself. I was to review the charity cases and sign off on them (something I had no idea how to sort out) and I was to go to town and come back from the bank (on public transportation, mind you) with the correct denonminations and amount of cash to make monthly payroll. The safe was in my office. There were other things to do, and theoretically, I was the head of the accounting department. That was totally beyond my understanding and skills. They knew that.
In fact, that was when I resigned. They were visited by a competent manager tasked with revising their accounting system. Both the sisters and I knew I had no business remaining on the job. They were right. I did not steal one paisa from them. They paid me the equivalent of $45 a month for a six day week, seven hour day. I did not have to support myself at the time so this was walk around money, but there wasn't much for me to buy either, just cheap but strong legal ganja and rarely illegal hashish.
I only got too stoned to do my job one day. On that day I found a room off to the side that was sequestered and slept it off. On another day I had gone home for lunch as was my habit and when I came back I met a praying mantis about four inches high and bright green swaying on the middle of the blotter on my desk. On a third day near the end of my time at the hospital I left the house to go back to work only to discover that soldiers were shooting and chasing rioters at the end of that Dhanmondi street. I went back home that day.
They were taking Ayub Khan down and replacing him with General Yaya Khan. That was happening in the west, in what is now Pakistan but was then West Pakistan. Dacca is in what was then East Pakistan, but is now Bangladesh.
Squatting On My Heels
The last thing you would
call me is gaunt. I don't mind.
If I was all bony
then could I squat like
the rest of the world does, flat
on my heels and butt?
I could not do that.
I'll just decompose
and shed radical
weight, leave vile puddles of me
all over the place,
(though I am big boned) and gray.
maybe then I can.
April 2, 2014 6:57 PM
Written for Thom's 3 Word Wednesday