The Hospital Queue

White isn’t my favourite colour. It’s the colour of hospital walls. It’s in the corridors and the doctor’s coat. I lie on the inspection bed. The assistant asks me to wait. The doctor’s busy with another patient but won’t take long, I’m told. I smile and look up at the ceiling. White again.

White= purity, hygiene? I wonder! The inspection room is small and can barely fit in two beds. But it’s meticulously done with a mirror and a sink, a small scanner, a saline stand, sheets and a window. They’re all… bleached. Whiter than you would see in Alaska, and cold. White= intimidating. Yes.

Shouldn’t hospitals be friendlier, I think? A dash of pink, a layer of orange, a shade of blue thrown in? More tender, if not amiable. Playful, happier. Because the unrelenting grimness rubs on you. The cold-bloodedness percolates into everything that passes through it.

Like me, standing in the long hospital queue before I take my place on the inspection bed. It is long, the hospital line, a two-lane snarl-up. You have to be a ‘patient’ patient to get through it. Or, you come with a reference slip. I have one. But I decide not to push it through. I’m still warm from the yellow sun outside.

Number 35, he writes on my slip. I linger outside the doctor’s cabin. The digital displayer flashes number 9. The phone buzzes. It’s my boy at the other end. He asks if I’ll be home before his coaching class. Yes, I say, then look up. So do all the other pairs of eyes around me. It’s still number 9.

An old woman sleeps while she sits, her hands clutch a wooden club close to her chest. Next to her, an expectant mother shifts in her seat. I remember my time with the younger one. An unfailing desire to recline. And yet, long hospital queues.

The phone rings again. My girl’s broken a glass in the kitchen. Is she hurt? I ask. No, comes the reply. I pass instructions and put down the phone. 35 is still far away. I shuffle the things in my bag, trying to reach out for the reference. I’m mostly accommodating and a good citizen.

I walk to the reception. If not now, when? Before the next number flashes on the displayer, I’m led to the doctor’s cabin. As we walk across the waiting line, a toddler runs to the door and tries to push it open. His mother runs behind him. She manages to pull him back. He tries to tear himself away from her. White can be claustrophobic too. In their tussle, wild screams fill the corridor and he lies down on the floor. I walk past him.

I said, the cold white rubs on you.

As I open the door, I try not to look at the surrounding people. But I feel several pairs of eyes on me. The expectant mother sighs and the club slips off the hands of the older woman. I pretend not to see. I have errands to run back home.

That’s how I’m here, on the inspection bed before the screen could flash number 35. The sun left my side long ago. I’m no more warm.  

 ‘This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla.’ 

Image courtesy Darkmoon Art from Pixabay   

39 thoughts on “The Hospital Queue”

  1. I hate hospitals and doctors. And no wonder: we only go to them when we have troubles. In Vancouver, where I live, many medical establishments put art on the walls: paintings donated by the local artists. Some of those artists are very talented, but their art, even colorful and uplifting, doesn’t make a hospital a more cheery place. You still go there with your problems, you’re still afraid to hear the terrible news, etc.

  2. Loved the way you have described the hospital and how everyone waits for their turn. So relatable.

  3. I was the “Never-sick” child of the house and my elder sister was in the hospital every second month. This routine continued for nine years and it made me hate hospitals. I do not know why the love of white but I couldn’t agree more that the place can definitely do with some splashes of colors 🙂

  4. I hate to fall ill, I hate hospital visits, it depresses me to no end so I could totally relate to your post Sonia. And as usual I love your style of writing,
    your creativity… everything!

  5. I love the smells of hospitals because my dad was a doctor. But after he passed, I now find them depressing. Love this story and what a twist at the end. You write very well…

  6. I loved the way you described the hospitals to be more amicable with better colors so the fear and worry that people experience might be reduced. I am always a great fan of your descriptive creative writing.

  7. Having grown up around doctors and hospitals, maybe I am more de-sensitized to them. Although there was more OG and blue than white. Moreover we have 3 hospitals in our 2 km radius. Each one has a lounge that is a burst of colors.

  8. This story really grips you from start to finish and is quite unsettling just like the colour white

  9. Lovely post. The hospital walls need to be white for technical reasons but these days the waiting areas look more like hotel lounges.

  10. The white in the hospital rooms make me depressed. In 2020 we had our share of hospital runs as my mom battled with cancer. The white walls made it seem even more sadder I wish if the walls were brighter atleast we would smile more even in the illness.

  11. A hospital, long queue and number of patients, been a part of your story since last year through my pregnancy. I hate white and green in hospital. White are the walls, bedsheets, pillow cover and green are the curtain, sheets. Love your short story, the way you describe each moment. Love it.

  12. Flavia Cutinho

    Ur right Sonia the color white on the hospital walls is sad, its like even if a person is well will fall sick caz of the color. Like I think hospitals should have vibrant colors, something like get cured seeing those vibrant colors

  13. You are absolutely right, Sonia. Hospitals are morbid and depressing. I have lost so many loved ones in the same hospital.White interspersed with bright colours would reduce the monotony.

  14. Once when my kid was hospitalized his ward was painted in blue. The walls were full of cartoon characters and animal murals. Even the bedsheets were blue. However, I was so tensed then I hated everything there. Your post brought back memories. These days, many hospitals are coming up with quite creative designs. But I prefer the traditional white. It seems comforting.

  15. Funnily enough I love going to hospitals ! I find the smell really refreshing and clean . And it is a great place to observe e human nature

    1. Thank you Liz. It was just a scribble as I passed time in the hospital. But since you mentioned, I’m having second thoughts about a longer rewrite

  16. The white left its mark on the writing too – clean and polished. You’ve also provided an excellent, vivid description throughout.
    Enjoyed reading this one.

  17. Aah, this is so true. Is it just the white ? I hate the smell of disinfectant too. Maybe we need colours to give us hope? Or is the colour of hope – white? All in all – yes, it does sound grim and your words have evoked something within me.

  18. Fantastic read. So realistic.
    Did I get it right: because you fainted they moved you up the queue and put you on that bed? And that’s why your skin is no longer warm? I think so.
    Oh, darling… I felt for you. Lovely write. Tremendous. XoXo

    1. Thanks Selma for reading. Well, I had a reference and used it to climb up the number chart. Not legitimate, not fair. But I did. As I said, the white of hospital walls rubbed on me and I turned a blind eye to the desperation of those around me by selfishly going in out of turn.

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