Mom and Understatements….


‘Have you ever treated a person with a gunshot wound?’

I asked my Mom one night. She had been a nurse for the greater part of her adult life.

‘Yes’ came her answer.

I was impressed.

‘Several times I assisted the doctors in the operating theatre.’ she added.

I was very impressed.

‘Maybe around 10 cases or so’ – she was not finished.

Ok Mom. I was WAY impressed!!!

We’re blessed with peace, alhamdulillah : nothing of that sort happens in Brunei.

This had been….

‘….during the communist insurgency in Sarawak’ she said referring to that era in the 1960’s well before I was born.

‘Soldiers mostly’ she said in between carefully picked food. It was dinner after all. And now that I think about it, such a strange and rather inappropriate if not macabre subject for a dinner conversation.

‘Some communists too…’ she added, ‘One fellow escaped through the hospital’s toilet window.’

I raised an eyebrow. This was way past interesting.

‘How did that happen? Didn’t they have guards for that?’ I asked, focusing intently on her.

‘Oh, they did’ answered my mum ‘careless policeman!’

Apparently the communist who had been hospitalised for a gunshot wound to the leg had asked the attending policeman/guard to excuse him for a nature call. The rest was history: he had ‘naturally’ absconded through the toilet’s windows.

‘The next instant…’ continued my mum, ‘the Army ran through the hospital!’

In fact, the Army scoured through the hospital and then for good measure….the countryside for the conniving communist. But it had been quite futile…

‘Disappeared right off!’ She had concluded.

I watched her eat. She had worked in 3 continents including the UK in all sorts of situation. Yet these incidents no matter how extraordinary they were, were only described in her typical low key manner. She could as well be describing some mundane thing such as the act of folding a shirt for all I know.

Yet in the simplicity of her description, I manage to identify my mum’s methods of dealing with stressful situations: humour.

She was also adept at understatements, it seemed.

‘It was work’ she had once told me, smiling.

‘It was work…’


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