I have been meaning, as usual, to write this review for a couple of months now. But as usual, life happens, Christmas stuff and then one’s son breaks his arms before Christmas… anyhow, I am now getting to it.
This is the second book I have read from Jonas Jonasson and I LOVE IT! You can read my review of “The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared” here.
“The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden” is once again written in that matter-of-fact tone of voice which is serious and funny at the same time. This story follows a young African girl, Nombeko, who raises through the ranks of the sanitation industry in the slums of Johannesburg, from latrine barrel mover to being in charge of the whole area. Gifted in Math and having an ability to understand how people think/work, along with a hunger to learn, she sets her sights on getting to the National Library in Pretoria.
But as life would have it, it didn’t happen. She was run over by a drunk driver on her way to the National Library, who turned out to be the head engineer of the top-secret nuclear facility in South Africa. He made her his servant at the facility for many years. It sounds bad, but she did get access to the library at the facility and food and shelter. She made friends with 3 Chinese sisters who were at the facility for similar reasons and amazingly learned to speak their Chinese dialect.
The highly unlikely but wholly probable thing happens; the engineer got into trouble and somehow, she came to be in a position where she was negotiating with one of the world’s most feared secret service over a nuclear bomb and ends up on the run from them.
Her next stop – Sweden, where she meets the love of her life, Holger, and his crazy twin brother who has an even crazier girlfriend. The twin brother has ludicrous plans to harm the monarchy and the King of Sweden. Once again, she manages the circumstances and the people involved superbly and they live in relative peace for a while.
But her life adventures were not over, the nuclear bomb remained (yes, a super unlikely situation but still within the realms of possibility) with her all these years and now it threatened to upset her life again. And so they went on the run again, getting crazy twin brother’s girlfriend’s grandmother involved.
Her ability to speak a specific Chinese dialect enabled her to be able to gain access to a high-level Chinese official whom she met while in the engineer’s service, who was able to help her gain access to the King of Sweden. With a few more twists and turns, she managed to get rid of the bomb, save the King and avert an international political affair, and still crave out some sort of a life for her and her beloved Holger.
I have given out more of the story than I usually do but I felt I had to. I wanted you to see how wonderfully unlikely, yet amazingly beautiful this story is. I can’t tell it like Jonasson but this gives you a tiny peek into it.
This book is so funny and yet it made me think about people and their fears, and what we do with our fears and how that affects the people around us.
If you have not read any of Jonas Jonasson’s books, I would highly recommend it.
Now i had debated with myself a few times whether or not i should blog about this, since it is sort of in the past, it happened in the year gone by… but i decided that such an incident needed to be recorded in some way.
So i am going to be looking back at nine days before the Christmas of 2016. It was Friday, 16th December 2016.
i had almost finished grocery shopping and was going to meet my friend for our usual weekly writing session when my mobile rang. It was not a number i immediately recognised. i picked up and heard the familiar voice of my boy’s teacher.
She asked where i was and if i could sit down. Then she told me not to panic, that Tobias had fallen in gym class and she had to call the ambulance, which was on its way. She didn’t think it was serious but said i should meet them at the hospital.
i finished up the shopping, left a message for my friend and headed to the hospital. i arrived at the ER and asked about Tobias but he had not been brought in yet. The lady even kindly checked with the private pediatric practice within the hospital. i was told to wait.
While waiting, i overheard a triage nurse say Tobias’ name. i stood outside her door till she was off the phone with the ambulance. She had already seen me at her door, even before she got off the phone. She immediately identified me as Tobias’ mother and directed me to the private pediatric practice because that is where she directed the EMTs to bring Tobias.
i texted my friends to be praying while i waited. It was 9.30am.
When Tobias arrived, at about 10am, he seemed rather oozy, which the EMT said was due to the pain meds. His teacher was with him and she was very kind and supportive. His forearms were in splints. The pediatrician came in and had a looked. When he lifted Tobias’ right arm up, i knew it was broken.
i found out, from the EMT’s description, how it happened. Tobias was in gym class, on the rings, he dismounted, fell backward and put his arms out behind him to break his fall. The ENT said it was a very classic fall and break.
We were sent for an x-ray. One of the nurses from the practice accompanied us throughout. Then i was shown the x-ray by the pediatrician, which showed that both Tobias’ arms were broken. He told us that he had already spoken to the head of orthopedics at the hospital, who was experienced in treating such injuries in children, so we were sent back to the ER to await admission paperwork and treatment.
While we waited in a treatment room in the ER, we had a variety of doctors and nurses come by. The first was the second in charge of ortho, who explained what was going to happen. Then a nurse came in to put in a drip line. Another brought more pain meds. Then the anesthesiologist. Then another member of the ortho team. Finally, at about 1pm, we were transferred to the ward to await surgery which was scheduled at 5pm.
My dear friend came and sat with Tobias in the ward so i could go home with the groceries and get some overnight stuff together. Thank you my dear… again.
We ordered our meals (my dinner and our breakfast and lunch) from the hospital menu. More pain meds were given. We got to chat with Tobias’ roommate, an older gentlemen, who seemed to have been in hospital for a while. Tobias’ teacher rang to find out what was happening and was devasted that both his arms had broken. She was surprised at how calm i sounded. i was strangely calm and i attribute that to the many prayers prayed on our behalf by dear friends. Thank you.
The surgery was delayed by an hour. i was allowed to walk him down to surgery. Then i went to pick Walter up from the train station. He was coming back from a business trip.
i picked up a few more things at home and he dropped me off again at the hospital before heading to his company’s Christmas event. There was no point in both of us staying at the hospital, waiting.
The nurses were very nice to keep aside my dinner for me and they served it to me at the little table where visitors usually sat and had a chat/tea with the patients.
A little after 8pm, the surgeon rang the ward and told me all had gone well and that Tobias would be wheeled to recovery soon. An hour after that, the recovery nurse called and said i could come down and sit with him.
At about 10pm, we were back in the ward. Walter then came by and visited quickly (he was only allowed in for a short time) before heading home. i spent the night sleeping in an armchair with a footrest, next to Tobias’ bed. The nurses were very apologetic that there was no bed available for me and found the most comfortable chair they could for me, one which could lean back a bit, along with pillows and two blankets.
The next morning, Tobias woke up in good spirits and realised that he would not be able to play games for a while and he was upset that he might not be able to open his Christmas presents. i assured him it would be fine. We washed up and then breakfast was served.
A doctor came in to check his bandages. Then the surgeon came in, checked and said we could go home this afternoon. The second in charge then came in with discharge papers and meds prescription. Then it was lunch.
While we were waiting for the nurse to come and remove the drip line, Tobias’ teacher came to visit and even brought a gift, audio books. It was very thoughtful of her. She said in all her 20 over years of teaching, this was the first time she had to call for an ambulance.
After Tobias’ drip was removed, we paid for my meals and went home.
So it has been 3 weeks now. We have had his initial post-op bandages changed to a much slimmer one, which has helped with the mobility of his hands. In 2 weeks, we go to the surgeon to see if the bones have healed nicely. If so, then the wires will be removed and he will out of the casts.
With casts on both arms and being allowed to only lift the weight of a glass of water, Tobias needed help in almost everything. We also saw serious bruising on his left arm which needed daily massages for a number of days to get rid of the blood pooling from the surgery site.
All along this journey, people have been kind and helpful and patient. i thank you all for your love, care and concern. Tobias’ friends and teachers have also been wonderful; being patient and helpful, getting their mums to text to ask how he was, visiting on their way to and from school.It has been a trying few weeks in which we had to have lots of patience. But the light at the end of the tunnel can be seen and we pray for full recovery.
It has been a trying few weeks in which we had to have lots of patience. But the light at the end of the tunnel can be seen and we pray for full recovery.