The Kids I Remember: Poonum*




These are some of the names of the kids with whom I walked the halls of BC Children's hospital. It was the early to mid eighties. On the ward TV we watched such shows as Scooby Doo and Silver Spoons. I don't recall us talking much. Perhaps this is presumptuous, but I think we were all just too tired.

Today, I remember Poonum. She had a frilly dress and two large bows in her hair, and was often perched on the edge of her hospital bed, her skinny brown legs dangling.

I recall being jealous of her white lace ankle socks; to my eight year old eyes, they were extravagant. She likewise had matching white Mary Jane shoes. In the time that we shared room 4A with each other,  we did not have a lot of conversation. But, as kids do, we became friends anyway. She, sitting on the edge of her bed, would smile mischievously at me while slowly pumping her legs to and fro, her shoes making a satisfactory slap every time they hit the metal of the bed frame. I liked it. 

Her parents were from the Punjab, I think. They whispered a lot to each other in a language I did not recognize. I don't know if they spoke English. I remember this because their quietness as a family was in contrast to the loud barking coughs that would erupt from Poonum after her three times a day treatment. The therapists would violently karate chop her scrawny back and sides, in hopes of loosening the mucus in her lungs.

Poonum had cystic fibrosis. She would die just a few days prior to my discharge from the hospital. She was four years old. 

I remember Poonum.



*This is the first of a series of three non-sequential posts regarding some of the kids I knew while growing up in and around the BC Children's hospital. I was inspired to honour these friends after reading Clare Bowen's post regarding her childhood journey of living (and surviving) nephroblastoma. Thank you Jessica for sending it my way.

You can read Clare's blog here: