Jones came to in excruciating pain.
“Good, you’re awake.” Jones heard the familiar Australian accent and for a moment thought he was back in Canberra.
“Pain”, he croaked, “Give me something for the pain.”
“Sorry, mate. No drugs available. You were lucky you stayed out of it while I stitched you up. No surgical thread either, that’s sewing cotton holding your throat together.”
His reality flashed before Jones’ eyes. He remembered something had happened.
He looked up at the doctor. “Were you here before all this started?”
“No, I’m just like you. Arrived with nothing but the clothes I was wearing.”
“How do they let you practice?”
“With so many people here there is much sickness and injury. They needed doctors. The local doctors put me through an ad-hoc “exam” to verify my knowledge as much as they could because they need the extra hands. So I’m patching up fellow asylum seekers like you.”
Oh God, thought Jones, the pain, the pain.
The doctor looked at him dispassionately. “The pain will subside, just try not to move too much. I’ll check on you tomorrow.”
Tomorrow? Jones was used to the best treatment in private hospitals. He couldn’t see a nurse within cooee, how was he to get food or water? He looked around as much as he could move his neck. He was in a tent. He realised he wasn’t even on a bed, but on a thin mattress on the floor. Along with about twenty other people. Some were coughing badly, another he could see had a leg elevated and covered in a very rudimentary bandage. Would he die here? If there were no painkillers there was likely no supply of disinfectant, no sterilisation of equipment.
The heat was intolerable and it was raining again. Rivulets of water ran beside his mattress. Jones tried to remember what had happened. He remembered being pushed through the gate, then someone rushed at him. After that was a blank. The deep gash across his throat told him something had happened.
Jones was hungry and thirsty, yet he couldn’t even call out for help, even if there was anyone to help.
About half an hour after the doctor had left, a young boy came through the tent with a bucket and a cup. He gave everyone a drink, all from the same cup. Jones was horrified. What germs might he pick up? Contract what diseases? Yet he drank, for he had no choice.
Jones remembered the pregnant woman from the boat. Was she to have her baby in this place? He remembered the births of his own children in the best private hospital money could buy. What chance at survival would this baby have, he wondered.
His thoughts turned to finding his family. How different was the reality of this place to what he had hoped. Jones had expected to be welcomed on arrival and helped to get to Mozambique, to the holiday resort, to find his family. Yet here he was in a field hospital receiving the most basic of medical care after having been attacked. He had no idea what would happen next but he started to think about how he could escape. There had to be a way out of this. But even if he got out, he had no identification, no money, knew no-one and had only the clothes he was lying in and the shirt was covered in blood. No shoes. Where would he go? Mental and physical exhaustion finally took over and his eyes closed. Sleep descended.
He was woken by the screams of a woman in pain. Birthing pain. He heard Sarah’s strong voice giving calm instructions to the young mother. His neck hurt like hell, he couldn’t see them but he knew they were close. He willed this baby to survive, willed the mother to survive the birth. Yet what life would this child face?
Continued at Jones felt burning heat and fierce throbbing