Although the temperature outside was high and the scorching sun blazed down and glinted on our windows, the air conditioning functioned perfectly and made our stay agreeable. I passed my time reading books, papers, talking with the nurses and the other patients or simply walking up and down the corridor. There were a few young patients who sat in wheelchairs, manoeuvring them from their rooms to the corridor and back again. I heard them discussing the prospects of their coming operations. Everyone had hope, they were too young to admit defeat. They had no other choice but fight against all the odds. Mothers and fathers came to visit them, carrying plastic bags with fruits, sweets, comics, and CDs of their favourite bands. They whispered words of consolation, patted their heads, held their hands.
A beautiful, young woman with long wavy red hair embraced her boyfriend's paralysed legs, tears trickled down her cheeks. She moaned, raised her head and covered his body with kisses. His eyes were sad. He was near crying himself. He hugged her, his hands limp as if there were no energy left in his body. He stroked her hair and whispered that she should not cry, but her tears poured down leaving dark spots on his blue jeans. They both knew well that if his conditions did not improve their relationship was doomed. Young women nowadays are not so eager to sacrifice their life to spend years at the side of a handicapped boyfriend, who would eventually become a burden and prevent them from enjoying life fully. The time for great sacrifices was behind. In front was self-interest and indifference.
Watching all these people my mind wandered back to my homeland, and I saw disabled soldiers crawling around like a group of outcasts who nobody loved any more. The leaderswho in the past had promised them all kinds of help and moneywere nowhere to be seen or lived in their palaces surrounded by thick, high walls. They did not make passionate speeches as they had in times of war. Instead, they counted their money in their bank accounts. Disabled soldiers had become a stain on their consciousness; it was a strain they would have liked to have removed. Almost every day the papers were filled with the news of abandoned former solders who had been forgotten not only by the society, but also by their own families. Many of them saw suicide as their only solution. The war had ended, but people were dying like flies again.
Pacing the corridor up and down, I thought how life plays tricks on us humans. I was so naive. I thought that by moving to a far away country I would escape suffering and distress, but here I saw it again, albeit in another form and more sophisticated. The final result was the same, however; there was no difference between the tears of Swedish mothers' and the tears of mothers from my homeland. All were powerless against a cruel fate which had destroyed the lives of the children they loved.