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infant died in her arms. For the past two weeks she’d spent her days at Kibagora weighing emaciated babies, discussing the USFDA food pyramid with the Rwandan nurse who spoke English, and generally avoiding the clinic where the malaria cases, machete victims, dysentery patients and pneumonia sufferers piled up two and three to a bed. She sat outside on a wooden plank in the evenings, talking to herself and digging in the grass with a stick.
      We’d all sat around a fire late one night —five of us Americans—talking about how to let go of grief, so we could be of some use to each other and the Rwandan refugees. Bagley believed that the best way to let go of it was committing to the plan, getting your hands dirty, getting up, getting going, getting on with it. "I am not here to nurture people," she said. "I am here to save lives."
      She didn’t waste time on moralizing with me about the four-year-old. She said, "You’re being too gentle. If you can’t get her to cough, then you’ll have to make her cry. If you can make her cry, there’s no way she won’t start coughing."
      Just to make sure we were on the same page, she said, "If you can’t get her to cough, she’s going to die."
      The next day, I got up early and walked by myself to the hospital, determined to see it through. I set up the equipment, put the girl on my lap and spun the chair around so the girl’s mother couldn’t see her face. I jammed the nebulizer into the girl’s lips. She squirmed, but didn’t cry. I pushed harder more to make her angry than to hurt her. I could feel her body tighten. She gasped, then shrunk away from me, too weak to fight back, but not too weak to be afraid and show it. She glanced up, dry-eyed, but terrified.
      I had no idea what to do. I thought about pinching her hard, but I wouldn’t be able to explain to her mother (who spoke only Kenya- Rwandan) why I was intentionally abusing her daughter. It had to be something less obvious. I motioned for her mother to change places with me. I gave her the nebulizer and laid the girl, who was covering her face, in her mother’s lap: chest to chest, hip to hip. The girl glanced up to see where I’d gone. I bared my teeth. It wasn’t even something I thought about. It just came out of me. I drove my canines into my lip hard enough to draw blood and clawed the air and crouched as if I were about to spring over her mother’s back and tear her from limb to limb. She wailed, sank back. And immediately started coughing. She gagged and coughed and wailed and the tears streamed down her cheeks and over her bare chest and belly. She writhed in her mother’s arms, choking, flailing. Her mother frowned over her shoulder at me. I made a show of fidgeting with the equipment, ignored them. The girl looked up again, found me standing directly behind her mother. I bit my lip again, narrowed my eyes to slits. More wailing, writhing, coughing.
      The guilt evaporated. I’d found my mission in life— making little sick girls cry. For most journalists, that’s a moral step up. From that moment on, every time I walked into the room, she shrieked. I hovered behind her mother, gnashing my teeth, wringing tears and green spunk out of her. She wailed while I doped her lungs, pounded on her back and caught spit in a handkerchief. Every four hours she hacked herself dry and I came back to make sure she didn’t fill up again.
      The antibiotics worked, her fever subsided; she began to eat well. On the sixth day, I walked to the hospital, looking forward to the moment she’d see me, wail and burst into tears. Her bed was empty. A nurse told me that she’d been released. She and her mother would be back on the road, heading north to find what might be left of the village they’d fled the summer before. Or the summer before that. I
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