16 September 2010
Dentist Rima was waiting for me again; veiled as ever “Ramadan is nearly over, it will be Eid next week and we need to get your bridge ordered before then”.
Before I knew it I was back in the chair with a needle entering the roof of my mouth then another to the back followed by 2 more monsters to the gum. “I must prepare the tooth for the bridge fitting”, I murmur some pathetic remark about needles in the roof of the mouth being painful but she ignores me and starts drilling away at the numbed gum around my tooth in preparation to fit the bridge.
My mouth fills with my blood gushing out of my disintegrating gum and I nearly throw-up on dentist Rima, she pulls back just in time and I manage to spit the blood into the nearby sink.
“What is it?” she asks, bemused at my behaviour. “I can’t stand the taste of blood” I tell her pathetically, “Or the smell of my tooth being ground-away”, “I haven’t even removed the excess gum yet” she says impatiently, I really didn’t need to know that I think to myself before deciding to shut up and let her get on with it.
A family arrive. A veiled woman and her 3 lovely children sit around me watching, obviously fascinated by all the blood and the foreigner in the dentist chair looking awkward and scared. This isn’t a sight for kids I think, I remember back to the time I fainted with fear at the dentists as a child, I saw the needle and hit the deck. Maybe these are hardened Arabic kids, they watch as dentist Rima drills away tearing back the gum from around my tooth, I stop her again to spit out more large mouthfuls of deep red blood to the absolute delight of my attentive audience.
Another family arrive with yet more kids and the audience builds, Rima pushes my head back and continues to drill around the tooth, despite the anaesthetic I feel sharp jolts of pain in my gum but still she drills on and on and on, I continue to spit out mouthfuls of blood and wonder if this will ever end. I try taking my mind off it by thinking about the week just gone, it has been a hard slow week trying to make my film but at least my dental bill is only £100 as opposed to the £850 I was quoted in London.
Finally, I swill my mouth out for the last time, “I must see you on Wednesday” dentist Rima demands, “Eid will begin on Thursday so we should fit the bridge on Wednesday”. Coughing and spluttering I make my way down the hot dusty street to find a cab, I climb in nursing my wounds like an injured soldier, the young driver looks at me and smiles. As he drives I notice a deep scar to his neck and arm and point to them, he shows me other deep one into his belly, speaking no English he indicates that it happened in prison and he smiles at me again, suddenly my mouth feels less swollen. We drive in silence and I stare straight ahead into the glare of the busy Syrian highway.