conversations in the waiting room of the eye clinic of a large public hospital.
I had a follow up appointment yesterday. I dutifully checked in at the appointed time and then sat down in the waiting area. A few minutes later two women came and sat down next to me.
One would have been in her sixties, the other in her early thirties. They were talking to each other and I did not take much notice until it went quiet around me. I sensed other people were listening too. The one in her early thirties was very earnestly talking about the need to provide her son, who appeared to be a very small child, with "mati" protection, protection against the "evil eye".
"He has such beautiful eyes you see. People keep commenting on them and I'm sure they're jealous and they wish him harm. I'll just have to get something..."
The conversation continued in this vein until, fortunately for the rest of us, they got called away.
The couple sitting opposite me looked at each other and looked at me and the man said, "Poor little kid if his Mum really does it."
I suspect she will.
I suspect we all have superstitions - although we may not always be aware of them. We don't see them as being superstitions.
Superstitions are particularly alive and well in some sections of the community. I am not sure why this should be so in 21stC Australia but it must give them some comfort.
I was called in by the nurse...a sensible, down to earth woman with a sense of humour and a strong Yorkshire accent. She put the necessary drops in my eyes and I went to wait in the next place. The two women were there - and still talking.
After some time they were called away. I waited. The door to the Registrar's room was open. I was due to see her for the check and I could see the room was empty. Eventually the nurse came back and said to me quietly, "Sorry, doctor's been called upstairs to a serious paediatric emergency."
I told her that was fine and I quite understood. Like everyone else there I was anxious to get away again but, even if it had meant I had to leave and come back the following day, I would not have complained. An emergency in paediatrics is an emergency indeed. Some child's eyesight was clearly in need of urgent attention.
It was some time later before the Registrar returned. She looked upset but smiled and called me in.
"Are you all right?" I asked her as she closed the door.
"No," she told me and then gave me another slightly shaky smile,"Thanks for waiting - and for asking. It's one of those times when I feel useless... "
To distract her slightly I told her about the woman who had been talking about obtaining protection.
"If only it was that simple," she told me, "I wish we could just buy that sort of protection for the child upstairs."
I do too.