House of White Flowers

Article’s name: House of white flowers

Article’s category: short stories 

Author’s information:

Name: Aimée Christine Ferreira de Melo Castelo Branco


University: Centro Universitário do Estado do Pará (CESUPA)

E-mail: [email protected] 


We were received at the door almost at the same time we arrived. The old lady smiled at ussmiled to us while she offered something to eat, something to drink; she kept smiling when we refused the offer. That was the first activity of a long and warm day, with lots of things to do. We went to the room to see what was waiting for us.

That was the moment when I saw Silvia for the first time. She, with 40-and-something years old, was lying on the worn bed, with a large dress and messy hair. Despite the strangeness in her way of look, she didn’t seem surprised to see a group of students coming into her room with the doctor – or, at least, didn’t show it. With some difficulty, she opened a smile and said good morning to us, just like her mother did instants before.

That bed has been her reality since she was seven years old when, being just a girl, suffered from infantile paralysis. Now, so many years later, leavinge that room was still a hard task, even being necessary. That was why we were there, to try to help her the best way we could.

Thus, my group started to ask her the basic questions all of us knew. How was she, if she had any issues, how long she was feeling that way… the woman answered, sometimes with a stuck speech, all that questions; wanted to answer by herself, reclaiming that small piece of freedom that she had.

Silvia needed help to sit, badly cwas she able toould  open her hands alone. I sat down beside her on the old mattress, holding her back to prevent her from falling. She looked into my eyes, smiling an almost childish smile. I smiled back, a bit ashamed. Her body, small and fragile, was almost completely supported by mine. Maybe that had been the first time that I truly understood the responsibility of medicine: when I could glimpse the vulnerability that she was carrying and realized that person was being entrusted to me.

My friends continued the routine of exams watched by our professor while I was still there, beside her, pretending to be surprised every time she looked at me, still delighted by that way of smile. Beside us, lying on the bed, were some worn dolls. I asked if they were hers, in hope of starting a conversation. She told me that they were, but they didn’t have a name – what sounded very strange to me. She asked me my name, and I answered, even though I said it before. We kept talking while the doctor was responding to herresponding her family’s doubts outside the room. 

Lying on my shoulder, that lady started to tell me who she was, with her slow and quiet talk: that she liked to play with dolls, that she must keep an eye on the watch to remember her mother to take the pressure medicines – “I take care of her and she takes care of me”, she said –, that she still believed that God could cure her.

Slowly, that first impression I had when I came into the room started to fray, and that human being, that seemed to be frozen in time at the age of seven, was actually full of hope, happiness, pain, full of life inside her. Maybe that was the most impressive thing: even after all that time, with all the things she had been through, she was still there and still giving us her childish smile of “good morning”. She still wanted to be there and that was wonderful.

Then the time to leave camehas come and I didn’t want to go. I laid the woman in bed carefully and said goodbye. Before I got up, however, she looked me in the eyes one last time. “I’ll pray for you, ok?”, she said “God bless you”. “God bless you too, Silvia”, was the only thing I could say, taken by her words.

I left the residence with no hurry, breathing the stuffy air of the city. Outside, thousands of white flowers were falling down from a tree close to the door, gliding with the wind before hittinghit the floor. That made a smile sprout upon my face, an unexpected feeling of gratitude. I spentspend the rest of my day knowing that someone was praying for me.

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