Some Side Effects

Fahri glared at the traitor in the room; his left arm. It did nothing in response, and that was exactly the problem. After three seconds of stubbornness, he sighed in defeat and shouted across the room, “Hey, Bahri! My hand died.”

“What?” Said this twin of his, who continued cooking while answering.

“Deceased. Numb. Cannot be moved.”

Fahri did not mention the dull, throbbing pain radiating from his upper arm. It was uncomfortable, but nothing too bad. An unnecessary trip to the clinic was the last thing he needed. “Guess this is that side effect the doctor mentioned. Nothing else, though.”

“Nothing yet.”

He winced at the response. “Thanks.”

“Says the one hospitalised from penicillin.”

“I am allergic!”

“And you said you can get an allergic reaction from the vaccine, too.” Bahri, square-faced and stern-faced, came in without much fanfare. The smell of fried eggs and noodle wafting from the two plates he carried overrid any impression.

“And I do get one! This!” Fahri shook his left hand by the wrist. It was heavy and unresponsive, like a rag doll. The pain sharpened with each forced movement, but he did not let it show. “It is just this!”

Bahri tore into his dinner, with Fahri following with his good hand. Still, his eyes darted over and over to Fahri’s face. The one being observed played obliviously and showed no sign of being in pain, and he played well. Bahri patted Fahri on the shoulder as he left for his room, “Just tell me if you feel anything.”

Fahri rolled his eyes. “Relax. Just a numb hand cannot kill me.”


“I am dying.”

Bahri rubbed his weary eyes, trying to get a better look at the shivering creature on the bed.

Fahri huddled in layer upon layer of blankets, curling into his stomach with his body trembling and cold. A thin coating of sweat left him shivering, groaning mess. 

“How are you feeling?” Bahri pressed the back of his hand against Fahri’s forehead. Warm. The pressure of his hand caused another wave of shiver all over Fahri.

“Construction site. Jackhammers. All over my head.” Fahri groaned, turning away to hug the bolster. “My arm is sore. My nose is itchy. I am feeling cold and hot all over and I have not finished my essay for Monday’s ethics class. I’m halfway to the grave and halfway wishing I’m already-”

“Where is your painkiller?” Bahri rummaged through the desk drawers. He had only had 3 hours of sleep and had no time to entertain the nonsense.

“Wardrobe. Overhead drawer.” Fahri let out another groan, feeling like the most miserable person on Earth. Bahri tuned the never-ending croaks of misery out while he searched for the right medicine.

Bahri fetched a glass of water from the kitchen and handed it over with a small pill. Fahri reluctantly ended his bouts of complaints to sit and took his medicine. Bahri needed to help so he did not spill the water.

“I will change your clothes. Try to sleep it off. You will feel better in the morning.”

The thick layers of blanket got Fahri sweating like in a sauna underneath. Changing clothes had Fahri drier and more comfortable. Bahri put a cold compress over Fahri’s forehead. Inadvertently, Bahri let out a sigh. “I told you. You should have waited for a better vaccine.”

Fahri put on a weak smile. “It is better this way than getting COVID-19. If I did not have to go to class, I would delay, too.”

“Stupid practical class, can’t you just do everything online?”

“I cannot help it. Unlike math, there is not much you can do for medicine this late into the semester.”

“I know, I know,” Bahri rubbed his temple. “You just have to study medicine when the pandemic of the century strikes.”

Fahri let out a chuckle. “On the bright side, you know more about the pandemic than your average student.”

“And have a larger chance of exposure to it. Thanks.”

“I love you too,” Fahri grinned. “You should have taken medicine, too.”

Bahri scoffed. “You wish. This one-time nursing you is enough.”

“Hehe. Yeah, goodnight.” Fahri pulled his blanket up with an impish smile.

Bahri stared at Fahri strangely. “What?”

“Well, if I got like this now, I might get like this again next time.”

“Next time?”

“Two-dose vaccine. I will get the next one in three weeks. Goodnight.”

Fahri turned his face to the wall, away from Bahri’s ashen face. He looked at his phone. Five in the morning; he had class at seven. Online, but still. He opened his calendar and groaned. Three weeks from now would be the week before the midterm. He was not looking forward to it.

Written by:

Fata Imadudda’wah

Universitas Padjadjaran

AMSA Indonesia

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