The past four days I worked on a video production at a local hospital. The video is about this state-of-the-art medical equipment that allows multi-disciplinary medical teams to operate on the patient at the same time. Instant conversion from minimally invasive surgery to conventional open surgery. No urgent patient transfer or assemblage of surgical teams required. A definite life-saver. For those of you who don't know me in real life, I write video scripts and do occasional project management for a video production house. Most of the jobs we get are plain commercial. Once in a while there're more 'meaningful' gigs for NGOs and the like.
My role in this production is to conduct and process the interviews, sort out what footages we might need, oversee the shooting and that the editor puts the right footages into the right places. Which has been a tough task given the nature of the video and ridiculously tight time frame. In the office I went through the medical terms and the footages until I was half-blind from staring at the computer screen. At the hospital my cameraman and I had to orchestra the doctors who mumbled in front of the camera, or spoke to us in a dozen floating voices at the same time inside the operating theatre. (I can't post pictures here since the video hasn't gone public yet and those guys have the copyright to the visuals)
Yesterday (Thursday HK time) was the last day of shooting. By late afternoon I was brain dead from it all. As I walked down the stairs I caught glimpses of a woman crying outside an operating theatre--she had just started to break down, to bury half of her face in her hands before a young man went to her and put his arm around her shoulders. For a moment I wondered if I should walk straight through the door and go up to her so I could see her--What kind of person would she be? Who was she crying over? Then I remembered I'd never stood outside an operating theatre in such circumstances, and I had no time or the mental capacity to enter that territory. Better get back to my cameraman who had fallen asleep on the couch where we had been waiting for the next shoot to begin.
Several friends of mine have passed and I never had a chance to see them at that last moment. Two died in traffic accidents and their coffins were all that I saw. The others bid their farewell with notes or letters that reached me later on. The first one came with a pin that was a token of affection between my friend and me throughout our teens; it pierced and stained me for a few years. The rest was just, well, eternal repetitions. In life you go through the same hurt over and over. Each time it opens the world of hurt you have been nursing within, sharpens and then blurs your fear again while you plod along. The raw nerve never heals. There is only the question of forgetting until you see you've never forgotten.
Amidst the hectic assignment, sleep-deprivation and hospital atmosphere, a relative gave me a call about my maternal grandfather who is in the hospital. Most of my friends know I have had no relationship with that side of my family for a very long time. The few times they have called me in the past years, it was always bad news and ambiguous requests, the kind that pushes you into a place where you're a heartless person no matter how you respond. For years I wanted to see this grandfather again because we were once close, and he would be the last person in that family who had anything bad to say against me--he's always been a cheerful, easy-go-lucky kind of guy.
My phone battery was dying and I had to rush into the hybrid OR to shout at the doctors again, so I quit the conversation without giving a definite answer. Was I going to stop by to see him? Would I make any arrangements with anyone about this? The memory of my grandfather from my childhood, grey hair and thin cotton shirts, jolly gait and giggles over our secret excursion to the dessert place. Things change so quickly everyday; I am off to hell and back every waking minute of the day, thinking, dreaming and then agonizing over phantom questions that shouldn't even change the course of anything I do. I'm not the same person my grandfather or anyone else has always known; and then I am.
There are always work, words and the days slipping through shadows. I need more time with my words.