By Dr. Kofi Dankyi Beeko – MD
The American from Germany
Prior to leaving Germany for Arabia Saudia for the long haul, it would have made life, perhaps, much easier thereafter for anybody, if one would have found out more about Arab culture and traditions, which, since one thousand and four hundred years, clothe the Religion of Islam, which God had chosen for the Prophet Mohamed (pbuH) to lead, first, Arabs in, and then the rest of mankind.
It is their religion, their way of life, their culture, etc., etc., in that order, frequently a Ugandan friend of mine tried to establish. One is astounded each time one would think of not having done just that first.
As a young person, however, one may be inclined to leap before looking. One is inclined to leap before thinking of it. It’s all part of the youth at a distance in the path of life. I had taken migrating to that part of the world as something like anything else, plus the attraction that, yet, an unknown terrain of a kind in that part of the world could carry or offer. One thing did occur to me very often, after having erred, and recollecting that one moved with a number of Arab boys in the student days when life was different. Good morning, was not always Salaam Aleikum! Was that all? There was more to say, which would please anybody who was born into that culture. That was not all. What would come as an addition, time would tell. One asked only an occasional question but did not ask for real schooling. Then how wise this was, or could have been, time was going to tell as well. There was, perhaps, an element of adventure, more than staying on the side of common sense. The picture didn’t include one in which I saw myself as someone migrating heart and soul. The manhood question: “What could I, or couldn’t I, out-storm?” Well, there again, time would tell. Would there have been, yet, another way one could go? Perhaps! As I started staying or living there for the long haul, I thought it was not necessarily difficult, or very difficult, let’s say, but, in some situations, one wished one had taken a different decision, or acted differently, when situations might arise, bounding, or bordering on cultural differences. In other words, incongruous thoughts and statements kept reverberating in my mind, now and again, and I thought to myself, well I am not alone, it couldn’t be I had been isolated. Here are a few such rough terrain: One Thursday night, and deep into the month of Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic (Hegira) Calendar, the month in which every Muslim is expected to fast except under certain circumstances, which would offer exemptions (illness, pregnancy, in the midst of a necessary long journey, or in battle), I got a call from a man who functioned at the King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Riyad as Deputy Director. He was a quiet man, or a very soft-spoken individual, apparently a Cardiologist (Heart Specialist) trained in America. He did not dabble much in clinical work. Nobody ever saw him examine a patient. His father is said to have taught King Fahd (the current King at the time this material had gone into my mind, as planning to pen it one day), I had arrived in the Kingdom thereabouts. His late father was the King’s childhood mentor at the time I arrived in Saudi Arabia, i.e., the mid-eighties, so it was narrated. Usually, a man like that could be very assuming, and also exposed to innumerable privileges, and would accept them too. But he might not. As a result, an individual of that sort would not be the easiest to deal with. But, this gentleman I am talking about was not, or let’s say, he was not, to that extent. You could not see in him, or on him, any stint of wanting to explore any situation, i.e., explore any circumstances to his advantage, and to the detriment of others.
One saw him instead, as someone rather in need of help, when the subject should be knowledge that we would be talking about. On the phone that night he informed me that the Prince of Makkah would like me to see his mother’s caretaker, who had fallen down at home, and had apparently broken her right hip. The man who booked the call to me knew I was not an Orthopedic Surgeon, but it was me he had been advised to call, he had added softly. Since it was about 4am, I suggested I would do so when I would come down to the hospital at 8am to see other patients also. This, I thought was a suggestion in place, since he said the fall had been a couple of days previously, and life would be assumed not to be at stake…, so I thought. But, a bit startled, he said to me, “No, Doc., you should see the patient now!” Instantly, I understood it, or let’s say I came to my senses. So, I had to see the patient there and then. It was a lady around the age of about 70. She was not in pain then, and indeed, she was in the process of helping in the palatial mammoth-kitchen getting the food ready for the family to break their fast before dawn. It was truly Ramadan. I found no clinical evidence of any hip-injury when I entered the over-dimensionally sized and styled bedroom to examine her, of course, in the presence of two other ladies. There was no evidence whatsoever of anything that sounded or looked like an injury, old or new. I asked for an x-ray to be done in the course of the day, and if still in doubt, I would ask for the Orthopedic Surgeon’s opinion in addition.
(To be continued)