Lilypie Third Birthday tickers

Monday, November 07, 2005

Remember, remember

This weekend, most of the country spent every evening staring at the night, watching the pyrotechnics as they whizzed and fizzed and burst into crackling showers of twinkling and glittering stars. Most households clubbed together and set off fireworks from their backyards, with their little ones skipping around the bonfires waving sparklers that leave trails of bluewhite smoke and holding out roman candles that belch flames in kaleidescopic colours.

Some of the country, however, weren't enjoying the Guy Fawkes shenanigans quite so much. Some of the country spent the weekend shivering away in an A&E department with broken central heating (I pity the folk who had to tolerate my icy touch). Some of the country spent the weekend worrying over the man hit by a rogue rocket, the woman singed when Catherine escaped her wheel, the child who had fallen into the bonfire.

Burn injuries are horrific, painful, disfiguring. The body retains heat even after the source of the burn has been removed, so the flesh continues to cook underneath blistered skin and it can take a long time to cool the body down. Even now, with new techniques of skin grafting and the restoration of plastic surgery, the process of recovery is still long and terrible.

I looked at my patient's small hands, skinless and blackened with soot and at the reddened eyes peeking out at me from under a mass of bandages, and I listened to her gurgling breath and weak whimpering, and I watched the green blips on the monitor, the saline dripping into tubes, the pale faces of her parents and I thought about the many times I have heard people bemoan the fact that firecrackers were banned in Singapore and rant about the loss of heritage and tradition and fun. And my heart ached in my chest to see the result of fun without restraints, without boundaries, without thoughts of safety.

As I walked home later on, my path was lit by a myriad of explosions and I stood still and watched, breathless, as lights streaked and danced across the chalky sky, reflected in the windows of houses, in puddles of water, in the eyes of children who shrieked with laughter and clapped their hands.

Is it worth it? Is it worth it?

Not for some.


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