Like most ethnics, I will travel across the city to visit a doctor with a family connection. Mine is the super clinic. Not only is my mother the medical receptionist there, one of the doctors is an honourary aunt and super-diagnostician who saved my life. Apparently she was born in a Turkish prison as her parents were fleeing the Union during WW2. Her parents moved to Western Australia from Europe where her mother was promptly widowed after a mining accident. The miners' wives, mostly non-English speaking women, were piled into a ute and taken to the site to identify their dead husbands. She was widowed with five children in a foreign land. And W.A isn't cool like Melbourne or Sydney. You don't live there, you do time. (Note: The story goes something like that. Forgive me if I've got it wrong.)
Naturally, she always makes me feel like my problems are miniscule. "I also had haemoglobin of 7 and I was running up and down ten flights of stairs doing 100 hour weeks as a med student." Having a hb of 7 feels like you're on the verge of a heart attack or a coma and it is very dangerous. Every time I run into her she inevitably brings up my drama and her part in rescuing me.
"You came in wanting to be treated for pimples." (Actually, a staph infection that turned my whole ear into a blister).
"I have table cloths which are less white than you that day." (Turns out, I'm not naturally alabaster).
"I asked you if you had been a languid child and you said that everyone just assumed you were lazy, poor girl." (At least it got me staying indoors more and I got good at drawing and reading).
This medical clinic is located in a rather well-to-do inner city suburb frequented by many university students from the neighbouring Melbourne Uni campus. My mother likes to case potential husband material for her youngest daughter in between answering phone calls and explaining medicare rebates. I'll be reading a Vogue in the waiting room when she'll pipe up in Russian over some unsuspecting boy's shoulder, "Varia, see this boy here? He is uncommonly polite and well-mannered for his age. He is Czech. Maybe he will suit Nina." I want to say, "Mama if he is Czech he can probably understand 40% of this conversation." Instead I snort a laugh into the well-thumbed April 2008 Vogue or at least snot onto a photo of a picture-perfect polo family in Tattler. Then she'll flick her bobbed hair to the direction of her sullen co-worker sitting on a stool like a hysteric Victorian lady in a dusty portrait. Again in Russian, "That woman is enervating me. Look at her. It's like she ate lemons for breakfast."