Recap: Aharon accompanies his uncle to a patient’s house, and he is forced to watch a surgery. His uncle really wants him to become a physician, and Aharon doesn’t want to disappoint him but he doesn’t want to be a doctor.
I was shaking as I held one side of Yosef down and looked away.
“You should watch,” my uncle admonished me. “This is important.”
If I was going to be a doctor but… I turned toward the surgery and quickly turned away. The sight of blood always made me queasy. There was no way I was going to look at that.
On the way home, Uncle Nathan put his arm around my shoulder as we headed home in the carriage. “So, wasn’t that something? Don’t you see how wonderful it is to be a surgeon?”
I coughed. I thought it looked impossible. “You’re an amazing doctor, Uncle.”
“One day, you will be, too,” he said.
I sighed inwardly. I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I knew it wasn’t a doctor. I didn’t have the heart to tell my uncle who’d raised me from when I was little and put so many hopes into me, but medicine and surgery was not anything I wanted to do. I wished it was. I kept trying to make myself like it. Maybe one day I would?
Suddenly, Uncle Nathan winced in pain.
“Are you all right?” I asked.
He took some heavy breaths and then he nodded.
It was the second time I’d seen my uncle double in pain like that.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m fine,” he whispered.
I let out my breath, relieved he was all right.
We arrived home very late and we tiptoed inside.
I headed for my bedroom. Shmuel and Chezky, my two little cousins, were both sound asleep in their beds near the window.
I crept under the covers and closed my eyes. I thought I would go right to sleep, but I kept picturing all the blood and the appendix and I suddenly felt nauseous. I jumped out of bed and ran out to the outhouse. I threw up and then I felt much better. No, a medical career and I did not agree – not at all. I sighed as I finally drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, I woke to the sound of someone talking in the kitchen. I dressed and went to see who it was.
Uncle Nathan was seated at the kitchen table with a stranger. They had papers spread out all over the table.
“Aharon, good morning.” Uncle Nathan smiled at me. “This is Dr. Sung. He is visiting from China.”
Dr. Sung nodded to me and I shook his hand.
“We’re working on a very exciting discovery,” my uncle said.
They continued their discussion, pointing at photos of what looked like some sort of plant.
I went back to my room to daven.
Later, after Dr. Sung left, my uncle motioned me to follow him outside. “Dr. Sung brought some exciting information for me. You know I’ve been working on something for a long time.”
I knew Uncle Nathan was researching some sort of vaccine, but I wasn’t sure what it was for.
“It’s a cure for the common cold. A cold is a coronavirus and I’ve dedicated hours of study to discover something that will cause it to be cured or to prevent it altogether. I know that handwashing helps prevent it and that germs are causing it. I began corresponding with Dr. Sung as I’d read some of his research, and he was working on the same thing. The exciting news is he brought me photos of a rare plant called fibisis that has a unique DNA match for the virus we are creating a vaccine against. I’m working collaboratively with him. I think we may be onto something. When this plant root is ground, it could create immunity.”
“That’s great,” I said. I wasn’t sure why he was sharing this with me.
“Aharon, I’m telling you this for a reason. The information is important and it’s valuable. There are unscrupulous people who will try to steal it and claim it for themselves. Dr. Sung has encountered some of them and he warned me they could be on my trail.”
“That sounds dangerous,” I said. I felt my stomach knot. “Maybe you should just stop working on it.”
“Hashem is giving me this opportunity. I want to protect so many people. Maybe people, especially young children and older people, catch cold and it can lead to pneumonia, G-d forbid. If I have the ability to do something to stop that, then that’s an obligation. Don’t you see that, Aharon?”
I nodded slowly.
“You are like my oldest son. I want you to know where I am burying this information.”
“Why are you burying it?”
“I don’t want to leave it in the house. That’s the first place they’ll look. I’ve already memorized it, so I don’t need to use it for my day-to-day work.” He motioned me to follow him out to the corner of the yard, way past the barn and near the cornfield. The spot was not marked or easy to find. He began digging and I helped him. Soon we buried the documents and a plant root from Dr. Sung.
“Now, I hope we will never need to worry about anyone coming here, but at least we know they are safe.”
I felt that knot in my stomach again. What if someone evil did come and tried to get that information. I tried not to think of what would happen if they did. It was safely buried. So, why did the thought of them coming still frighten me so much?
To be continued…