I could never forget that day as long as I live.

It was the day my only sibling underwent a parotidectomy – a mass of unknown origin and characteristic which was observed growing beside her left parotid gland was surgically removed. After a three-hour-and-a-half operation and another two-hour post-operative observation in the recovery room, she was finally wheeled out of the operating room. When the stretcher finally cleared the swing doors of the operating room, I walked with agonizing slowness beside my sister. She was lying motionless on the stretcher, a picture of utter exhaustion.Her entire head (almost) was tightly wrapped in bandage, with only her eyes, nose, mouth, and a portion of her cheeks showing. She appeared to be in deep sleep.

The stretcher, which was pushed by a broad-shouldered male nurse with a female nurse carrying an IV bottle connected to the right arm of my sister walking beside him, noisily lumbered down the hall. We covered the mere sixty-meter distance to her private room in what seemed like hours. At last our short procession entered her gloomy room. As the two nurses effortlessly transferred her to the hospital bed, she looked very light indeed – featherlike, one might say.Then the female nurse arranged her IV tube on a wooden stand while the male nurse connected her to a breathing apparatus. All the while my sister did not show any sign that she was aware of what was happening.

When the nurses left after covering her up to her chin with the thin hospital blanket, I went and stood a foot away from my sleeping sister and looked at her with trepidation and pity. I just stood there - unmoving and very quiet - content to just watch the rise and fall of her chest as she continued with her exhausted sleep.I did not know whether I should talk to her and see if she would come awake the moment she heard my voice. In fact I wondered whether she could hear me at all if I did talk to her because both her ears were tightly covered by bandage. She looked like an Egyptian mummy brought back from the past. At that moment, nothing mattered to me except that the operation was done with.

The whole world seemed to have stopped turning and the silence was deafening. I had entirely forgotten about my hunger and my thirst (I had not eaten anything during the past twelve hours).After about five minutes, I saw her left index finger move, followed immediately by the rest of the fingers of her left hand. Then she partially raised her left arm as if to urge the rest of her body to come fully awake. Very soon her right eyelids flickered, and then she slowly opened her eyes.

However, when she did that, I saw that only her right eye opened fully. The left one, which was inflamed, remained tightly closed. Her right eye slowly scanned the room then finally settled on me. She looked rather dazedly at me so I smiled and said “hi” as brightly as I could.As she tried to smile back, I saw that only the right side of her lips moved. The left portion near where the operation was done remained inert.

Her face, as she smiled, appeared distorted because the left side of her face did not register any movement. Then it hit me - the muscles of the left side of her face were not working! I was reminded of an uncle who was partially paralyzed by a stroke and wondered if she would ever recover. When at last my sister managed to talk, it was in a very faint voice. I could barely hear her so I told her not to talk just yet.I said that it would be better for her to go back to sleep and have all the rest she needed to get her strength back.

I believed that she heard me because I saw that she closed her eyes again. I told her not to worry because everything would turn out right, that the operation had been successful. I said that we would be going home as soon as she was strong enough. I was stroking her right arm lightly as I was talking to her in the most encouraging voice I could muster. Only I did not know if she heard me at all because I heard that she was already breathing heavily.