A family that goes to a vasectomy together, stays together. But it wasn’t my friend F on the table this time, it was me. Ken, the Canadian super-surgeon agreed to do the snip , and so at 9.30, we as a family went to his house for the big event. Now in case you think I am getting weird, the kids came along because Julie was to be surgeon’s assistant, and there was no one else to look after them.
I lay on his daughter’s bed upstairs (she was not present, let me add), and stared at the ceiling, the occasional thought of the millions of potential children of mine whose futures were being sealed off. Julie passed the Betadine and the anaesthetic and Ken tucked in. He didn’t play Eagles this time as the soundtrack, but afterwards we did drink coffee and eat quince slice together and listen to Playing the World. We then walked slowly, slowly home. Not too painful, but enough.
It’s late ish. 11.20pm. The power has just come back on after being off for a day and a night.
I am upstairs and about 10 minutes ago, opened a window to the cool of the night. I have just heard, from house a block behind us, the most awful screaming. Like I have never heard before, and I have heard some. Panicked, terrified screaming. Women’s and children’s voices. Calling, ‘Baba! Baba!’ – ‘Father, Father!’. And other words, that I couldn’t make out.
I stood at the window, a voyeur on someone’s terrible pain. I tried to compensate for my inaction by looking for flames – no fire, nothing I could see. Heart attack? Death? I wondered if I should go around. I have before, intervened in people’s anger and pain and violence. Should I here? The answer is obvious.
It stopped. Maybe it was only a few minutes. Did the father wake up? Is everyone ok, or are they just silent. I am relieved of intervening. But I hope I am not relieved too often, or I will soon learn not to hear.