Choi walked down the Severance Hospital, corridor, looking for sung-Kyoo Yom's room number 31. He tapped on the door, opened it slowly and stepped in. He could not recognize the man on the bed, whose face was covered with bandages. One foot was in a plaster cast and there was an intravenous drip attached to his hand.
Yom's wife got up from the couch where she was resting. She had been either crying or she had not had enough sleep, Choi thought, seeing her eyes were red. She gave a feeble smile and walked upto Yom's bed to stand by his side.
"I heard only this morning when I came to office" Choi tried to explain why he could not come the previous day.
Yom opened his eyes, but did not say anything.
"How is he now" Choi asked Sumi, knowing that she may have had to answer that question a hundred times already, but not knowing anything else to say.
"He is in much better condition now. And doctors say there is nothing to worry about" Sumi said
"They always say that. Anyway is there anything I could do"
"No nothing. The hospital is looking after him well. The nurses are very good"
"How about you. Your meals. Who is at home" he asked Sumi.
"I am fine. I go down to the cafe and have something when I feel like it. Yom's mother is coming today"
Choi sat down on the chair and Sumi walked back to the couch.
"How did it happen?" Choi asked her now.
"I don't know much about it. Only what I was told by the people who brought him here. He left home yesterday morning to visit his brother in Namwon. I couldn't go because my sister was coming from Taegu. It had rained and somewhere on the Yongdong expressway, a truck had skidded and smashed into his car"
"That is a very dangerous stretch of road, even if it had not rained" Choi says
"But Yom never drives very fast, and I know he is extra careful on this road, because of the way most drivers use it"
"Who brought him here"
"There had been some people who were on their way to the folk village and they had got hold of a mechanic to break the door open. The truck had smashed into the side he was sitting and it had taken about half an hour to open the door and pull him out. Then Mr. H. J. Lee, who is working at a duty free shop at the airport had been passing by and stopped, seeing his car. He knew Yom, from his school days. Whenever Yom was going out of the country, he used to drop in at Mr. Lee's shop till his flight is called. So Mr. Lee called me immediately and had followed the ambulance to the accident ward in his car"
"You were lucky that Mr. Lee was there"
"I think it was the Saadhu who had guided him there" Sumi replied, touching the locket on her gold chain, with a picture of the Saadhu.
Yom was listening to their conversation, but did not care to join in. Perhaps he was in too much pain.
Yom had joined an American company who came to Korea to set up a factory for manufacture of computer hard discs, after he returned from the united states with his Ph.D. in applied electronics. He was given a furnished house, a car and a salary of US dollars ten thousand a month. Sumi was working in a bank before she joined Yom in the states, and on their return, she had decided to be a housewife.
They had no children, and that is how Sumi had been drawn to the Saadhu and the Saadhu Jana Samaja where she had become an active member, because she had a lot of free time on her hands.
A nurse came in, checked the fluid level and the drip of the infusion, asked Yom if he needed anything and left the room again.
There was a tap on the door once more and the door slowly opened. Yom's mother came in, out of breath, with anxiety and worry written all over her face.
"Son, what happened to you" she blurted out.
"I had forgotten to carry the Sadhu's photo with me that day. If I had it with me this would not have happened" Yom told her.