He was now constantly thirsty, as though that first glass of water had awakened his addiction to liquids, so that he kept emptying his jug of water and asking for more. At first, the nurses in the ward were happy to oblige, but very soon they grew reluctant to go near him – the women, that is – for they realized with disgust how the old man’s penis erected each and everytime they went near him. Very soon, they branded him a dirty old man and instructed the only male nurse in the ward to take exclusive care of him.
The male nurse was more amused than disgusted to hear and observe this old man’s spontaneous reaction to women. In fact, he was a little envious of the old man, for his own erection had no longer the same eagerness and spontaneity this old man exhibited. And he soon realized that apart from those questionable erections, the old man also had a curiosity and hunger for practically everything under the sky: he remembered how the old man grabbed his wrists suddenly, staring hard at his watch, his head nodding in rhythm to the ticking. Other times, he would find the old man grinning foolishly to himself when he saw birds flying across the sky outside. Strangely, this old man spoke no words; at first, he wasn’t even capable of gesticulating to get what he wanted. He looked pitifully at the nurses – usually at Betty, the new nurse who first tended to this old man – and opened his mouth, his face contorted with agony, his voice a coarse encrypted message no one understood. He eventually learned to lift his jug of empty water, wave his hairy arms, and hit the bed to get attention. The old man reminded him of an ape, of Mowgli, the boy who’s raised by animals and didn’t belong to civilization.
And when Old Mowgli – the male nurse nicknamed the old man secretly with personal pleasure – had his first meal in the ward, it was quite a sight. Even as the nurses carried food to the other patients, Old Mowgli stared hard at the colorful array of greens, red meat, and brown rice, groaning and hitting the bed fervently and making to climb out of bed to get his own share. The male nurse pushed him back as gently as he could, and called for Old Mowgli’s food urgently, while observing the wild look in the salivating old man. Once the food was before him, Old Mowgli plunged right into it, headfirst, so that his face was smeared with gravy, and his violence knocked his glass of water to the floor. Grabbing fistfuls of vegetables and rice and stuffing them down his throat, he choked and spat and quickly licked them off the table and bed, making wild, desperate noises in the meantime. All the nurses could do at first was to stare in amazement, until the head nurse started yelling for them to act; and the male nurse ended up having to feed and wrestle Old Mowgli at the same time.