|The brief story of the month|
Watch it!!!, donít wander, Iíll tell you what happened from the very beginning so that youíll get the feel of things, but remember: the events of that day have nothing to do with the point of this story. Okay?
The point is not that I return to my car after playing football feeling a tingling in my arm. Iím hot, I say to myself, and open the window. I know I shouldnít light a fag but I canít let pass the bronchial dilation that follows my physical activity. This is psychological, I think, Iíve got this idea in my head and maybe thatís why Iím also feeling a slight discomfort in my chest. I let a fresh breeze blow in my face and wonder if it was a good idea to stop at the auto-Mac before the game, I always wonder if stopping at the auto-Mac is a good idea. I get home and Iím still not feeling well, I get into the shower because thereís nothing like a good shower to set you right.
Water hits me on the back of my neck and things seem to fall into place. I step out of the shower with my robe on; I still feel some discomfort, a minor one but a discomfort all the same. So I tell the guys I share the apartment with that Iím going to the kiosk to buy a soda, not just anything, a cola with caffeine and that will fix me, I say to myself, Iím exhausted and I need something to pep me up. Iíll take a walk while Iím at it and take some fresh air. But I can hardly make it to the kiosk, those last meters are the longest, and instead of a cola drink I ask for an energizer and chocolate to boost the effect. Two more minutes and Iím back to normal, I try to convince myself, and I put both of them down before I reach the corner. But I feel the ground moving and I have to sit on the edge of the sidewalk. I get my Japanese cell-phone. Is that you? I canít move, bring the car and take me to the health clinic (the one near home).
I walk in, with my medical insurance card ready, obsessive as I am, and wait for the lady at the reception desk to notice my presence. Without even looking my way she takes my card and asks me whatís wrong with me. I sort of mutter about my symptoms and she points inside, not giving it much thought. I go down to the basement. Every minute that passes I feel the pressure on my chest getting worse and Iím immediately referred to the physician on call. He asks me routine questions, makes me lie down on an examining couch and they start doing all shorts of tests I could talk at length about (but thatís beside the point).
Being hospitalized is not the point either. Or the fact that all that couldnít have lasted very long, or maybe it did, I donít know. But what I do remember very clearly is that suddenly a pregnant lady doctor turns up (a message, a paradox?), who in low, slow undertones tells me Iím suffering a cardiac event. The words are kind of strong (say them out loud and see how they sound to you), and I tell the doctor so. They say theyíll do everything in their power to make the event as short and smooth as possible. But soon Iím surrounded by tubes and cables and I feel Iím short of breath so they put an oxygen mask on me. The air doesnít get to me, I demand more air, this is the maximum says the nurse, I insist I need more.
And I black out.
When I light up again Iím in a sort of field, you know, like in the movie Gladiator, when the guy touches the wheat blades, (but donít stay there because itís not the point), I see around me a lot of people I donít know and I walk calmly like them, and with them, itís such a peaceful feeling, like when I was a kid and went out shopping with my mother. But I also begin to realize there are voices shouting at me, Jorge, Jorge, and I feel on my back something that holds me back, a force, no, a rope, thatís it, thereís a rope tied round my waist and itís horrible because I canít walk any further, whatís more, it drags me backwards, and my presence on that field is no longer pleasant, itís distressing because itís in jeopardy. Yes, there are enemies wanting to drag me out of there while I want to stay there forever, but Oh! That damned force is stronger, Iím unable to deal with it.
I know all this Iím telling you is very tough and maybe youíre thinking that the point of this entire story is my passing through that field, but itís not (although weíre drawing closer). Donít try to out guess me, listen: I regain consciousness, Iím agitated and sweaty, and my heart recovers its monotonous and necessary boom boom. Nobody tells me Iím back from death and they donít mention the plates on my chest. Instead, they tell me they put in a stent to unclog the artery. No calls are allowed or visitors besides family, and one at a time because being calm is important to my heart recovery.
Besides, Iím feeling very tired and the only thing I do is sleep and watch TV. One night, I think it was the fifth night, a nurse leaves me a tray with food. Iím already feeling better and even bored of being there and she asks me how Iím feeling. The normal thing to do would be to say very well thank you, but I donít know why, I get this urge, like when you feel like going to the bathroom, to tell her what happened to me, tell her what I hadnít said to a living soul. I donít know why I want to tell her about it, maybe because she asked me in such a gentle voice, with such a simple look, but letís not stop there (thatís not the point).
And so I tell her, in full detail, especially about my journey through the Elysium Fields and my combat against that overpowering, distressing force (exaggeration is the mother of every story). While Iím telling her I realize that has been the most extraordinary day in my whole life and that Iíve been in the place where weíll all end up some day and itís both a privilege and a relief to know that death can be that: a journey across a pleasant (Italian?) field. I must pull myself together to stop from crying, because I fear it may be harmful (thereíll be plenty of time to go back to the countryside) and because to me itís important that this woman whom I donít know but looks at me straight in the eyes know what Iíve been through.
I finish telling her my travels, convinced that what happened to me will change my life for ever. At that moment I think: Now I will be different, Iíll do everything better, I will improve my life and the world, I will become the kindest, simplest and healthiest person. Because the effect of what happened to me will last in me forever, the emotional memory of a miraculous, extraordinary experience (yes, all that and much more I felt at that moment).
But no. No, no, and no.
A thousand times, no.
I become silent, she smiles, holds my hand and kisses my forehead and says: all those we manage to bring back tell the same story. They all say the same, she says to me. Díyou get it? Or must I explain it to you? The same! All of them! And now when I think of that day, trying to evoke it in its entire emotional dimension, I feel nothing. Of course, I can tell it to you once and a hundred times in full detail but what stands out in my mind like a huge neon sign are the words that nurse said to me.
And that is the point, the damned point to this story.