A 'Dam Good Time'
Copyright 2020 Aashana Daru
is a very real incident that happened to my family and I; 'A
Time' is a short story about a summer vacation to Amsterdam, during
which the strangest medical emergency occurs and everything that
could go wrong, does.
is known to be the city of cycles, canals and poffertjes, not of
midnight accidents and ER trips. Summer of ’19, my family––sans
my dad––were in De Dam. “Family” consists of
myself (hi!), my mother and my much younger sister.
is also the city of all things PG-like-21, but owing to my sister’s
age, and my mom’s discomfort with anything out of the Indian
norm, we stuck to the milder parts of the city; trams, fries and
canal cruises made up our days and I, for one, could not complain at
all. I loved the city, everything it stood for and everything it was
made of. The cute houses enchanted me, the waffles were delicious and
the number of things to do was endless.
we weren’t really staying in
of this dream destination; we’d booked this gorgeous house
right outside Amsterdam, a short train ride away.
house was perfect, architecturally so-to-say. It was compact and
cozy, with French windows overlooking a nearby stream and the forest
opposite. A small kitchenette, sofa and one bathroom, the house was
complete with exactly four sleeping spaces––two beds
side-by-side and one geometrically-unconventional bunk bed. It was
presumed that with a family of four, the kids sleep on the bunk and
adults on the singles––as if anyone can ever be too told
for a bunk bed! My sister and I clamored to reach the top;
things, she won the argument and that was that. Frankly, I was too
busy falling in love with the Netherlands to care at all.
my typical fashion, I’d drawn out an entire itinerary––each
day was just perfectly
with things to do, leaving enough time for us to traipse around in
the tram, browse cheese shops and do our favorite activity: grocery
shop. Now, I know that’s an odd thing to love, but these stores
were unlike anything we ever see in India. Fresh fruit of all kinds
were stuffed into little cartons, you could get fresh waffles, and
everything had a fat-free option!
spent the first day doing a canal cruise, walking around the canals
and just generally admiring the city. The evening was spent cycling
and stocking up our little kitchenette, the night spent reminiscing
the past day and mulling over excitement for the next.
second day was eventful, to say the least. We wanted to walk, and
walk we did––24,000 steps, if my Fitbit was to be
believed. My usually finicky sister had tried mini-pancakes, I’d
gorged on fries and my mom had marveled over the wonderful draught
beer. The best part? The two of them hate museums, so I’d
toured the Rijksmuseum all on my own––for free, student
I’d admired sculpture after painting, loving the architecture
of the building in itself and strolling through the lush surrounding
to say, we were all really
tired. Barely an hour after dinner, we’d passed out––a
surprising feat, because none of us could sleep properly when the sun
was out. Deep in the middle of a dream about milk and cows, I was
jolted out of it by a large thud. I’d shot up, and my mom had
skidded into the room.
4:30 am, I turned to see my little sister sprawled on the floor,
having fallen off a bunk bed that was taller than I was. She’d
scratched her leg on the edge of my bed––an
understatement because really, she had torn her entire shin open.
There was blood everywhere, staining the hardwood floors and her
clothes and our vision. She, of course, was barely awake; she’d
turned in her sleep, and tumbled off.
mom, being a doctor, and I, aiming to be a doctor, immediately got to
work. We grabbed a wad of unsanitary-albeit-clean toilet paper and
pressed it to her gaping wound. Just about then, my mom had a
syncope attack; she nearly passed out, nauseous and dizzy, because of
the stark change in her blood pressure––I mentioned that
I want to be a doctor, right? I was in a not dissimilar state; a
quick face wash later, I was ready to get to work.
note: My mom thinks I was nauseous because of the blood, and she
still mocks me relentlessly for not being able to stomach it. That is
table scenes while eating, so.)
I sat with my hand pressed to the wound, my mom put herself back
together and got an anti-inflammatory. My sister was still barely
conscious, drifting in and out of sleep; a blessing, really, because
she would have started crying had she been awake. She slipped back
into sleep soon enough, leaving my mom and I alone in a mess of
blood-soaked sheets, wood and toilet paper.
hours later, my sister woke up not in much pain, but in deep shock.
The wound was deep enough to reveal the bone underneath, and tissue
was spilling out with new blood. The skin around it had blackened,
and we could see more scratched skin around it. We’d debated on
it the night before, but looking at the wound then, we decided that
we had to take her to the Emergency Room.
is when the story gets interesting––a bit late, huh? We
were supposed to rent a car when we’d arrived, but only my dad
had an international license so we’d cancelled that. My
dad was supposed to fly out with us but had to stay back for work,
making it one of the sparse times the three of us had travelled
alone. At the risk of repeating myself, we weren’t really close
to the city––or any city, for that matter.
without a car,
we were pretty helpless; Uber was our next best option. I distinctly
remember the face of our Uber driver when we got into the backseat
with a child with nearly a roll of toilet paper wrapped around her
shin––not a common experience at all.
it was only a twelve-minute ride to the nearest ER. It was kind of
nice, to be honest. We drove past what one could call suburban
Netherlands; larger houses, more play areas and residents milling
about. We’d accounted for everything––passports,
health insurance, travel papers, everything except the weather. India
is infamously a tropical country, it’s hot all. the. time. The
Netherlands, on the other hand, is not. Fragile night-shirts helped
minimally as we hobbled our way to the ER in the chilly wind.
we got to the ER, multiple other things went wrong. They wouldn’t
accept our insurance papers and they wanted us to book an appointment
and of course, the Dutch-English language barrier. Finally, an hour
and half later, we left the hospital with a lighter wallet and four
long, winding but excellently-done stitches through my sister’s
shin. Fun fact: that was the first time anyone in my family had ever
gotten stitches, so it was a truly exotic first.
look back at it now and laugh, laugh in thanks to the wonderful staff
at the hospital and the caring lady at the reception and the patient
Uber driver who did not ask us not to stain his seats (he should
have, oops!). I would be amiss to say that the whole thing didn’t
affect our trip at all, but it did make sure that our first trip to
the Netherlands was a memorable one.
is the story of the last time my sister ever gets on a bunk bed.
Daru is a young writer for India. Her love for writing stems from her
love of reading, switching between the two as she feels. She writes
mainly recreationally and academically, and will be pursuing a degree
in English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago
(Class of 2024).
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won't know where to send it.)
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