The old woman rubbed his shoulders with her hands.
Her wrinkled eyes were as warm as ever as if she was greeting her own grandchild.
Offering her a seat, Suhyuk opened his mouth,
“How have you been?”
“I’m always doing well. Are you working without eating meals on time?”
“Oh, I’m eating well. Do you have any pain?”
“No, I don’t. I just came here to see you. I just wanted to come to see you someday, but completely forgot. Then you were suddenly on TV!”
Having said that, she offered a black bag.
“What is this?”
Looking inside it, he made a gentle smile. It was potatoes.
“If you boil it, it tastes so good. So, put it somewhere and eat it when you’re hungry.”
Suhyuk smiled brightly after accepting them without hesitation.
“You don’t grind the seeds to mix with milk, right?”
“No. As soon as I went home, I threw them all away. I was stupid enough to have made many people worried about me for that,” answered she, as if she was sick and tired of it.
Suhyuk wore a bitter expression. Even though she was good-hearted and generous, she had no family. Her children, who contacted her on and off, lost track of her at the end of the day.
Surely they would get punishment as they left behind such a good mother.
Suhyuk chuckled more brightly, saying, “Dont’ you feel any pain on your shoulders or pins and needles on your legs?”
“No, I’m really fine.”
Then she held his hands and stroked them cautiously, saying,
“Your hands are so cute.”
Looking down at his hands quietly, she raised her head and said, “Thanks, thanks.”
“Is everyone doing fine there?”
He was inquiring after those old men and women in the shanty town.
“Of course, they’re doing well. Oh, dear. I think I’m holding a busy doctor for too long…”
Standing up, she said again, “Don’t skip your meals, and you have to take care of your health first and foremost. If you are sick, everything will crumble. I’ll see you later, then.”
When she turned around, he stood up quickly and opened the door.
“Please take care. And I’ll stop by someday.”
Yes, he will do so surely.
“You don’t have to, seeing as you’re busy. It would be a waste of time! Get back to work now!”
‘I’ll come and see you.’
She went back, and in came the next patient.
His name was Choi Gilsup, a 42-year-old man, and strangely enough, his name was familiar to him.
Choi, his wife, and a daughter, all came into the office.
With a smile, he cast his eyes toward the woman.
When he looked at Choi, he recalled who he was.
He was the very patient whose leg had been stuck when a newly built house collapsed.
“How have you been, doctor?”
At Choi’s asking, Suhyuk made a gentle smile, “Good, of course.”
Suhyuk looked at his wife and child, with Choi standing next to them.
Without succumbing to the accident, Choi stood up on his own to support his family.
He looked to be in good condition.
“We were not sure what you liked… but this is a gift we’ve prepared.”
It was an import alcohol that seemed very expensive.
“I thought you were here because you’re sick…”
“I’m very healthy thanks to you, sir.”
The official consultation hours were over.
Though Suhyuk said he could see more patients, his supervisors stopped him.
The makeshift office was against the regulation, and this was supposed to make those involved run into trouble. Not only protests from other hospitals but a big fuss could come out of it.
So, the hospital set up a policy to run the makeshift office for general practice for three days only.
Though he was done with treating patients, Suhyuk was still staying in the office.
With his eyes fixed at one corner, he scratched his head.
A lot of gifts were piled up there.
Healthy foods ranging from potatoes and import alcohol, to ginseng and green vegetable juice.
What should I do with all these…
His parents naturally came to his mind, and he made a smile.
It was the third day that Daehan Hospital opened a general practice office. Time passed fast, and Suhyuk was hectically busy treating the patients.
Sometimes he would pose with patients, and he felt much relieved to think of it as an extra service to them.
When the patient stood up, Suhyuk opened his mouth, “For the time being, stay away from drinking alcohol.”
Another patient quickly came in. Park Chanhee, a 37-year-old man.
He was in a neat suit, and sat on the chair with a smile.
Suhyuk asked softly, “Are you here due to any pain?”
“Hello, Dr. Lee. I’m not here due to being sick. I’m from Cheil Hospital.”
Suhyuk’s eyes became wider at his reply. Cheil Hospital was called a top hospital along with Daehan Hospital in Korea.
“Why are you here, by the way?”
“I just wanted to see you. Unless I come to see you like this, I was afraid I couldn’t meet you, as you’re quite busy.”
“Is that all you’re here for?”
Suhyuk’s tone changed. As he was not a patient, it’s better to get him out of the office quickly.
For the next patient was waiting.
“Here’s my business card.”
Suhyuk looked at the card. He was a general surgeon.
When he looked at him again, Park opened his mouth.
“Frankly speaking, our hospital would like to scout you. Of course, we’ll pay you more than Daehan Hospital.”
Having said that, Park read his countenance.
Generally speaking, a hospital needs famous doctors.
For they bring in lots of patients, and the prestige of the hospital is supposed to go up.
So, Cheil Hospital staff conducted a secret investigation into Dr. Lee Suhyuk.
Thought he just became a resident, there was universal praise of him at Daehan Hospital.
In short, he was a doctor with immense potential.
That was enough.
Taking his eyes off the card, Lee said,
“Thanks for giving me such high praise.”
Park rose from his seat, saying, “You don’t have to reply right now. Please give it some thought and let us know.”
Park headed to the door, and when he grabbed the door latch, he turned back,
“I want you to know this, though. If you come over to our hospital, we’ll offer you the best compensation in terms of benefits and pay. Goodbye, then.”
He soon went out of the hospital.
When he was looking at the card, another patient came in.
Suhyuk smiled at the patient, “Come in!”
One more day passed and the temporary general practice was now over.
The hospital director let him take a day off, with words of appreciation.
As Suhyuk thought of taking a day off too, he felt good about it.
Getting up early in the morning, Suhyuk was moving some packages to a truck.
A one-ton truck was parked in front of Daehan Hospital.
All the packages were already loaded, which were the gifts he had received from the patients.
“This is the last package. Let’s go.”
Suhyuk got in the truck, along with the driver.
“What are all those packages?”
At his asking, Suhyuk just smiled, saying, “I just want to give them to my parents.”
“Wow! I’ve never seen such a huge number of gifts like this.”
The driver, feeling envious about his parents, thought of his son who went to college.
He did not have any expectations of him. The one thing he wished for, was for him to be a good doctor like Suhyuk sitting next to him.
He wanted to brag about his son proudly to others. Yes, bragging about his son.
The truck drove for about one hour, and arrived at his house.
His mother, who had a day off only one day of the week, came out to greet Suhyuk.
“Come on in, my son!”
When she reached out her hands, he hugged her with a smile.
She said, while hugging him, “What are all those things?”
“They’re gifts I received.”
The driver, who was watching the mother and son with a satisfactory look, smiled greatly.
“He is a devoted son. I envy you.”
Her warm smile brightened more. She said, stroking his shoulder, “You’re such a cute boy!”
“Let’s go in, mom.”
Suhyuk began moving the packages with the driver.
She also helped them, although Suhyuk asked her to stay away.
Soon all the packages were moved inside the house.
She began to lift the gift boxes one by one that were piled up high in the living room.
All sorts of gifts, ranging from ginseng and black onions, to wine, etc, which all were reputed to be good for the health.
“Who gave you all these gifts?”
“I received them from the patients.”
“All of them?”
He nodded his head.
“How thankful they are! This import alcohol seems to be very expensive. Let me give it to your daddy.”
Suhyuk smiled at that.
“Oh, do you want lunch? Did you have breakfast?”
He shook his head and said, “I’m hungry.”
Rising from the floor, he dusted off his hands.
“Wait a moment. Let me prepare lunch for you.”
Then his cell phone buzzed.
“Oh, you take my call right away. Are you not busy now?”
“Looks like you’re not either.”
“Are you busy? I finish work a bit early today for the first time in a long time.”
“Well, I’m at home now as I have a day off today.”
“Great. How about soju with grilled pork belly at a nearby restaurant?”
“Ok, give me a call when you’re done.”
Hanging up the phone, he dined with his mother, and ate the delicious fruits that she peeled for him.
His happy time with his mom passed quickly, and it was already the evening.
His father was pop-eyed at the many gift boxes.
“What are all those boxes?”
Going out, Suhyuk moved to the place he was supposed to meet Dongsu.
The weather was good, and the occasional wind made him feel cool.
Soon, Suhyuk arrived at the restaurant and went inside.
As it was the weekend, it was crowded with customers.
He took a seat, when Dongsu opened the door.
“Hey, Lee Suhyuk!”
Suhyuk smiled at him. Though he saw Dongsu after such a long time, he felt just congenial to him as if he was a friend he met only yesterday.
“Didn’t you order yet? Auntie!”
Soon, side dishes and grilled pork belly were served.
When the meat was getting cooked well, Dongsu raised his soju cup.
“Today, soju feels sweet.”
“Hey, slow down, man. You might completely black out.”
“You’re supposed to drink soju quick from the beginning, man.”
Their drinking time was not short. They consumed as many as six bottles of soju.
Dongsu rested his chin on his hands, which suggested he was drunk, given his drinking pattern.
He was murmuring incomprehensible words.
Suhyuk drank up some more soju.
When he let out a little breath, Suhyuk thought of one thing on his mind.
“We’ll give you better compensation than Daehan Hospital.”
At the same time he thought of his mother preparing food in the kitchen and the dust on his father’s clothes after he returned home from work.
While Dongsu was murmuring alone, he refilled his own cup and drank it up.
Suhyuk took out the business card from his wallet and looked at it quietly.
How much time passed?
“Yes, this is Park Heechan.”
“Hi, this is Lee Suhyuk.”