Day 37 – The Worrying Kind

The language barrier has never seemed so impenetrable. Basketball had it’s final game yesterday but Covid-19 has finally wormed it’s influence into any sports gatherings even outside. Now, we didn’t know what we could do. We get along really well with all the lads that we play with and have therapy with but that’s when there’s something to do or be doing, where you can muck about without needing to say a word. But today found us sitting around after therapy with Abu and after Al and one of the other patients – who we call Hairdye because we can’t pronounce his actual name – had joined us.

 The language that Abu was speaking the previous day was Malaysian (I think) and to prove my lack of memory skills, Aaliyah picked up the numbers 1-10 pretty damn quick, but I’m still stuck on 6-10. We then took to scrolling through photos on each other’s phones (not mine and Aaliyah’s, I think the western culture shock might be a bit much because already they’d made comments over my phone’s lockscreen which was of my mates in the Student’s Union very much dolled up and dressy) and attempting to make conversation over context. I’d also already placed my face as most of the patient’s lockscreens in anticipation of going home, when we came back, it was interesting to find that nobody had changed it back either. Success. Aaliyah and I could obviously easily make up jokes between us and they were also laughing together but the made thing we found mutual humour in was that we couldn’t understand a word the other was saying.

At one point, the head of Physio walked past and mentioned something about gatherings and how we needed to be 1m apart, so our circle extended a little, still in the cramped parallel bar area. My mind always overthinks social situations like this. I think some of my friends have probably noticed that I have a tendency to worry that people aren’t enjoying themselves and we all constantly need to be doing something and can’t just chill. I don’t like it when everyone sits around on their phones and there’s a reason that I like to carry around a pack of cards; But even cards becomes difficult when you can’t explain the rules. In this situation, I found myself thinking ‘What can we do? Is there anything we can do so they don’t go away and we have nothing to do again?’ I wish, wish, I was okay with sitting around and doing nothing, or having no care for opinions but when I enjoy company such as Al, Abu and Sol, I feel like there is much to lose. When boredom did finally expose itself into our weird little circle, I fretted inwardly over what to do next as there was still an hour or so until the end of the day (theoretically). Sha, a previous patient of mine who I regularly took bets with, had agreed to try help us learn Bangla a little as it would improve his English. But truth be told, I just can’t do it. My pronunciation is horrendous and my ability to memorise words incomprehensible. So now I fear that our friendship with the other patients just won’t be the same without basketball and unless we start to learn the language more soon, I think some of my other patients on ward 3 might get frustrated that they can’t express their complaints directly with me. Ugh.

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