By Marva Gregorio De Souza
The old lady took her time. Slowly making her way along the tightrope of life, engorged with the memories from yesterday and still filled with hopes for tomorrow, and possibly the day after.
It was a strange day and Hettie wondered how it would all pan out, how would she cope with the changes and how could she explain to everyone her decision.
Three o’clock. It was time to go in. The brightness of the waiting room was challenged by the brightness of the doctor’s surgery, a battle that would continue until 6pm when everyone went home and the lights were switched off. Hettie sat down on the chair next to the desk and waited patiently for the doctor to look up from the notes he was making. This was the last thing she needed, more time to gather her thoughts, more time to change her mind but no this was it, she would not turn back now. This she owed to herself.
Hettie at six came to greet her with a sad smile. The same sad smile as Hettie at seven and eight, fifteen, twenty-five and even now at seventy-two. Hettie at six was playing in the sand pit at school with the boys, always with the boys. More comfortable with the boys, they understood her, she understood them. The girls just teased her because she didn’t like dolls and always wore trousers and cut her hair like a boy. The doctor spoke and Hettie at six went away again. “How can I help you Mrs Barker? How are you feeling?”
“I’m very well thank you doctor. The reason I’m here is because I’ve come to a decision regarding a certain matter.”
The doctor waited for her to continue. The pause lengthened so he decided to prompt her. “Yes, Mrs Barker?”
“I want a sex change. Wanted one for years without realising what it was I wanted of course. It just wasn’t conceivable when I was younger. But I’m not happy, never have been. I’ve given and given and given I can’t give any more. It’s time to take something for me. So I want to be the man I’ve always sensed I am inside.”
She stopped. It was the doctor’s turn. Of course he would try to dissuade her, it was his job, it was the norm. But she would remain steadfast, would not be shaken.
“OK, Mrs Barker, I think its time we considered a special home for you.”
“Surely in your position you must hear about cases like this everyday. I’m not crazy, just different.”
“Don’t you remember coming to see me a month ago and having this conversation?”
“No. I’ve certainly been thinking about it for a long while but this is the first time I’ve plucked up the courage to come and speak to you about it.”
The doctor sighed the sigh of the compassionate. “You came to see me a month ago and said that you wanted a sex change, to become the woman you always sensed you were inside and I suggested you try dressing as a woman for a while to see how you feel about it before any commitments were made.”
“That’s rubbish. Complete and utter nonsense.”
“Feel between your legs.”
“I beg your pardon!”
“Feel between your legs. Go on, right now!”
Hettie looked into the doctor’s eyes and saw the care, the concern, the desperation and she reached reluctantly down to her lap, moving her hand up simultaneously. Henry flinched slightly as his world crumbled around him again.
“So let’s talk about your care now shall we?”