Another episode of laughter from the dressing room interrupted Cynthia's recollections.
She got up to go into the dressing room. Two steps forward, and she hesitated and returned to her seat, heaving a sigh loud enough to be heard meters away into the ward.
How can I desire this? How do I forego nursing, which is ministry, for something so distant and dissimilar?
In her mind's eye, she saw herself parading the corridors of St. Serita's, one time distributing tracts to patients and visitors. Another time, she was at the bedside of a terminally ill patient, eager to get the woman to believe in Jesus before the last breath should escape from the sick lungs.
"Cynthia," said the head nurse of her ward, walking up to the bedside, "you are a good nurse. Stick to nursing. Leave the chaplain’s job to the chaplains. Or, if you’d rather want to become a chaplain, kindly notify the Matron."
Cynthia blushed and dragged herself up from the seat and stumbled away from the bedside.
"Lord," she had prayed under her breath, "forgive me. I have to preach the gospel here to find any bit of fulfillment in this job. I don't want to do this for the rest of my life. Show me what to do. Give me wisdom."
The clock struck 3 a.m. Cynthia straightened up on the seat when she heard footsteps approaching. A few seconds later, a woman stood at the door to the nurses’ station.
"Please, my daughter's water is finished."
Cynthia grabbed a bag of intravenous infusion from the shelf and followed the woman.
Several minutes later, she returned to the station. Once again, laughter came out of the dressing room.
"Enough is enough," Cynthia said and pushed the door open.
"Gee!" shouted a plumb and dark-skinned young woman. She put down her phone on the table. "Is this how the time had flown? I'm so sorry, Cindy. I didn't just take note. Marian is a great talker, we –"
“Vera, you know the right thing to do. Do it.”
"What’s there to do?" Vera asked, plugging the charger of her phone into a socket on the wall.
"Prepare for the 4 a.m. medications." Cynthia went out.
Vera rushed after her. "But, Cindy, is that something you can't do? Just how many children have medications for 4 a.m.?"
Cynthia turned and flashed at the friend.
Widening her eyes and mouth, Vera raised her hands in mid-air. "Whoa. It’s okay, police officer. But please, let me just finish this important message I was sending. Pleeeease." She dashed back into the dressing room.
"I hope you won't find fault with me again when I inform the Matron tomorrow about your conduct during working hours. For God's sake, Vera, you've been on your phone for more than four hours. A child could have died, and you wouldn't know."
Vera came out, baring her teeth. "Grrrrrr. Must you go to that length? Can't you help a sister out? I'm tryna get me a husband, and all you do is disturb me."
"Vera, when you don't do your job, you place a burden on others. It shouldn't get you annoyed when they complain. Besides, you’re paid for the job."
"That peanut money, is that what you call a pay?" Vera squeaked and headed for the shelves on the wall.
"Peanut money?" Cynthia scoffed. "Anyway, if you’re unhappy with the remuneration here, go find a better place, and stop receiving payment for work not done."
"It's enough. What the heck..."
Cynthia turned towards Vera's direction and frowned at the sight. One of Vera's long fake fingernails had torn a glove.
Grimacing, Cynthia said, "If you kept your nails at the recommended length for nurses, you wouldn't have had that happen."
"To hell with all that crap." Vera pulled the glove off. "Think I should lose my taste of beauty just because I took some oath?" Then she muttered furiously.
Cynthia came closer. "You can do your nails during vacation. You know the profession and the administration here frowns terribly at artificial and polished nails."
"Nonsense. They can't stop me from living my life." Vera took out another glove from the box and wore it with care.
Cynthia returned to her seat. Shaking her head, almost unbelievingly, she watched her colleague fumbling with a vial and a syringe. A moment later, the glass fell to the floor, spilling some of its contents.
"Sh_____." As soon as the exclamation left her lips, Vera took another vial from a box and shifted the tray before her.
"Be patient," Cynthia said, almost clenching her teeth as though to prevent a nasty word from leaking out.
"Nonsense. My hatred for the night shift knows no bounds. In fact, I hate this job. If not because of the hard economic situation, I'd be outta here in a heartbeat."
Vera lifted her hand, examined it, and sighed so loudly that Cynthia came closer again. "What's it?"
Another long sharp nail had come out through a glove. Cynthia shoved the colleague aside and took over the tray.
Vera pulled off the gloves from her hands and hurried in to the dressing room.
Cynthia stopped and stared down on the contents on the tray, the realization only then dawning that she may one day feel that her job was taking away her true life, and offering her nothing in exchange except a guaranteed monthly paycheck.
In some ways, she envied Vera's laughter that came from the dressing room. Cynthia would have gladly accepted the opportunity to numb her conscience and shirk from duty like the colleague, but how could a Christian with an awakened conscience do such, and receive payment for work not done?
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