Outside the window, the firmament resembled a cerulean expanse, while the cumulus clouds bore resemblance to majestic vessels. I observed the clouds serenely drifting, succumbing to drowsiness. Just as slumber was to claim me, an agitated voice permeated the aircraft announcement, breaking the tranquility: “Ladies and gentlemen, imminently. My apologies for the intrusion, but a child has inadvertently obstructed their trachea while ingesting sustenance. Are there any passengers present who possess medical expertise?” The atmosphere abruptly tensed.
“I am a physician.” The swarthy youth seated beside me raised his hand, promptly unfastened his safety restraint, and arose. Several minutes later, a collective sigh of relief escaped as the child’s cries reached our ears.
Upon his return to his seat, his dusky countenance glistened with perspiration. Retrieving a tissue, I proffered it to him. He expressed gratitude, and naturally, our conversation commenced.
“With utmost admiration, I must proclaim that upon glimpsing your unassuming attire and your comparatively dark complexion, I surmised you to be an outdoor laborer. Alas, I never fathomed that you are a healer and savior of lives—a doctor. Remarkable!” I uttered. He smiled helplessly and replied, “Indeed, your complexion is considerably fairer. After two years spent in Africa, it becomes arduous to evade the acquisition of a darker hue.”
Surprised, I queried, “Do you toil as a physician in Africa?” “Yes, I partake in the noble endeavor of aiding Africa as a doctor, and I have just returned from my mission,” he affirmed.
“Exquisite,” I sincerely exclaimed.
“Ah,” he scratched his head, “It is no cause for concern. Medical care knows no bounds; prioritizing life is the sacred duty entrusted to us physicians, as we strive to foster a global community of well-being.” Boldly, I inquired, “Might I have the privilege of hearing your account of aiding Africa?”
He spoke leisurely, “The hospital I serve in is a flagship institution, initially established through the assistance of our nation. Our contingent of aid workers comprises twenty individuals, each assigned to diverse departments. Over the course of my two-year tenure in Africa, I have encountered numerous experiences, yet one shall forever remain indelible. It unfolded on an ordinary night while I patrolled the ward, when the bell resonated vociferously within the duty room. The caller urgently implored us to prepare for the arrival of a group of wounded individuals. Roughly twenty minutes later, a police vehicle delivered a cohort of blood-soaked victims, bearing gunshot wounds! Among them, the gravest injury befell a compatriot of Chinese origin. He had suffered two gunshot wounds—one piercing his left thoracic region, while the other penetrated his right leg. Regrettably, upon his arrival at the hospital, he had succumbed to exsanguination. Despite several hours of resolute efforts to save him, his injuries proved insurmountable. As a physician, the sensation of helplessness is devastating. Fortunately, the remaining injured individuals responded favorably to treatment and averted peril,” he concluded.
“It transpired that a Chinese construction project located ten kilometers distant from the hospital fell victim to an assault by a gang of armed assailants. Gripped by fear, the workers concealed themselves until the police arrived and repelled the malefactors, enabling the transportation of the wounded to the hospital for urgent care.”
“The unfortunate soul who met an untimely demise was Mr. Zhang from the project team. A genial gentleman who had devoted many years of his life to Africa, he selflessly exposed himself to the onslaught of gunfire, shielding a local orphan. He shall forever remain interwoven with that land.” He sighed, “Truth be told, the denizens of Africa, for the most part, exhibit remarkable simplicity and affability toward us.”
As he recounted some of his unforgettable experiences, he concurrently engaged with his laptop. Astonishingly, I beheld an array of data written in English, an assortment so dazzling. “Is this not beyond the realm of a physician’s purview?” I queried inquisitively.
He responded, “These are records pertaining to certain exceptional cases that I stumbled upon online. The origins of infectious diseases are intricate, and for some ailments, there exist no preexisting cases to study. We must scour disparate sources for information, engage in comparisons, track and document observations, and conduct research in collaboration with domestic experts through online conferences. I have brought this wealth of information to attend a professional symposium in the southern region, in the hope that it will engender novel breakthroughs beneficial to the African populace and the broader realm of human well-being.”
As I beheld my companion engrossed in his labor, a resounding melody permeated my thoughts: “Toward the heavens, beyond the mountains, into the vastexpanses of the sea, which path shall I traverse…”