Buna was angry. Her head was not clear enough to know much more than that – but she was angry. She didn’t really know where she was. She didn’t know who this woman was. She didn’t know why she was talking to this woman, or why she was dressed in this absurd, thin dressing gown, but she knew she was angry. She was angry, and her head hurt.
Buna was not aware of the large bandage on her head, or the dried blood that clotted in her hair. She was arguing with main doctor in the hospital that she should leave immediately, because her children needed her at home. She was aware that she had no children, but she had thought about these non-existent children, and the one young daughter who died so soon after birth, that they had achieved some measure of reality.
“Who is going to feed them? Answer me that!” she snapped at the doctor, her voice hoarse and unsteady, despite her anger.
Tatiana Semonova, an angular woman with hair dyed an unnatural shade of red, was the chief doctor at the psychiatric ward. She had worked at the hospital for 30 years. She never liked alcoholics or drug addicts, and at this point in her career she felt a positive revulsion toward them. This woman with an ugly head wound was about 24 hours away from her last drink. The only reason she was not now shaking with the delirium tremens was because of the strong tranquilizers that had been injected into her with the greatest of difficulty two hours ago. From the way Buna was acting, Tatiana considered that another dose of tranquilizers was necessary.
“If you tell me where you live, we will make sure that your children are cared for. But you are in no condition to go out on the street. We simply can’t allow it. Do you know where you were when we found you?”
This question baffled Buna. It did not make her less angry, but it distracted her. No, she didn’t know where they had found her. As in all blackouts, she really had not the slightest memory of where she had been prior to this very unpleasant current moment, sitting here, with an aching head, a terrible thirst, arguing with this stupid woman.
“I was at home. I was minding my business, when you took me here. You had no business taking me here. I was not bothering anyone. You took me away from my children! Who is going to care for them? They will be calling me. Yes, they need me.”
In fact, Dr. Semonova was uncertain of the children’s existence. They might, in fact, need this poor specimen of humanity. The thought depressed her. That a woman could abandon her children to drink in such low places, with such vile companions. The hospital workers had collected Buna from the city jail in Baku. It was some sort of miracle, really, that the workers at the jail had cared enough to call the hospital because they were concerned about the gash in Buna’s head. In fact, the wound bled a lot, but it was not very deep. As far as the people in the jail could determine, her head was cut when she fell on the floor, fighting with another prostitute in the bar.
Fortunately, the two hospital orderlies that Dr. Semonova had summoned finally knocked once on the door and entered. One of them had the syringe loaded with diazepam.
“Now, I really need to get some work done. You will go back to your bed and rest until you feel better. Then we can talk about getting your children some care. But – at this moment, we simply cannot release you. You are a danger to yourself and to the public in your condition.”
Buna felt two firm hands grab her shoulders and lift her from her chair. Her anger had been spent, and she allowed herself to be guided back to a rickety metal bed with rubber sheets. The hands grasped her arms, holding her tightly as a needle pierced her skin, shooting her with another tranquilizing dose. It hurt, but not much. Her head hurt.
“Water?” she asked.
Someone handed her a thick plastic cup, and then took it from her when she had drunk. She put her bandaged head back on the pillow case that was stained from blood that had seeped from her wound. She began to breathe more deeply, and soon fell into a dreamless sleep.