When I woke up on Tuesday my voice was completely gone, not even a croak. Part of me was rebelling against this affliction and the other part sighed and surrendered. What else can one do? I am sure that the fighting would only prolong it.

And so I went through the day whispering. It is funny that when you whisper, other people also start to whisper around you.

We took another chance going to the ministry hoping to see the big boss and have him approve the meeting on Thursday that we had started to prepare with an underling. We positioned ourselves in the anteroom to his secretary; a large room with some 20 chairs arranged along the walls. On one side was a large bureau – the center piece of a bureaucracy (= the power of the bureau). Since I couldn’t really talk I observed. There was a constant coming and going of people, many quite young. Everyone carried a folder or a brief case or some other container for papers. Sometimes papers got filled out but most came with papers already done.

The sign on the entrance door to the secretary’s office says ‘knock and then enter.’  But some people just sat down and waited. It wasn’t like a doctor’s office where you are called in, and so I never understood on what cue people got up, knocked and went into the next room.

The next room was populated by three people sitting there amidst piles of papers, some loose, some in binders and folders, piled up high. My colleague left a handwritten note for the big boss, who she had taught some years ago, asking him to just see us for a few minutes. The secretary wasn’t very friendly. I gave her my card and she copied it on a piece of paper. We went back out to the anteroom and continued the wait.

I had to go to the bathroom. This required an explanation of who I was and a key, which I got. I am not sure why the bathroom was locked as it wasn’t in pristine condition. I know in many ministries of health the toilets are locked because people wander in from the street and foul the place up (really foul).  For a moment it looked like I couldn’t get out as the lock fell apart when I tried to open up. I had visions of being locked in there for hours and nobody daring to rescue me not knowing whether I was still doing my business. Eventually I got out and shortly thereafter we got our break with the big boss. Not having a voice was really awkward. My colleague had to do the talking and I sat close to the boss, whispering to him now and then.

The rest of the afternoon we worked on the program for Thursday, for which we have now received the official green light, and me whispering my colleague through the exercises she will have to do.

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November 2015
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