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Fon d'parikulur - 08

10 janvye 2010

Occasionally, one wakes up from a deep sleep – only to realize that you do not know how long it was. Even when you open your eyes, until natural light hits them – you do not even know whether it is day or night. You may look at the clock, and you think that must be wrong – does not occur to you that the clock is right and your sense of time is wrong. That is the kind of trance that Jules woke from. She looked around to see where she was, and the result was appalling – she was in hospital. Not the kind of hospital that someone in America, Canada, or someplace in Europe would expect – where everything was clean neat and decidedly white from its linens, but a back hospital in Haiti. There were hospitals in Haiti which were somewhat similar to the developed world's model, but this was not one of them. She looked for a nurse, because she still needed confirmation about certain things – little things such as the date, and whether or not she could believe the time. Remember, the time was 24 hours, so if it said 1500, it was stating that it was the afternoon, and since it could not be the ninth – having already passed 1500 – she was worried that she would miss her appointment with the doctor. Of course he was not a “real doctor” as her father would say it, but he was a Doctor of Architecture. This was enough for Lucy Jules.
Eventually, she saw a ruffling pattern, which was probably a skirt – though it was brief enough that she was not quite sure. But then the roughly pattern occurred again, and an elderly woman came out from behind a curtain, thus confirming what she had seen before. Then Jules tried to wave her left hand to get the attention of the elderly nurse, while taking in the rotundity of the figure, as well as the shortness and compactness. She rather thought that this nurse would tell everyone else that she was 152 cm – and perhaps with enormous heels she was. That was the difference, she noted, between elderly and wizened – because the elderly cared what height they were seeing at, where as the most senior no longer cared as much anymore. They had been shrunken by age, to the point where they never cared about it. Such was the delusions of the elderly which they eventually cast out as they felt the creeping hands of death spiral around their throat. She could imagine that the elderly nurse felt them, but they were down on her body – and the nurse could fancy herself as just a little older than most. But that was not true, but Jules – everyone could tell that the nurse was aging fast. Though Jules did not know it, by the time 2012 rolled around, she would be dead from a heart attack.
The nurse finally saw her hand fluttering, and motioned that she would be there – in some time. But remember, time does not move the way it does in developed countries, where people are usually wear of how late they are running – even though they do not do anything about it. Instead it flows like water, drifting between moments, searching and having on its own pace. This way, a person does not really care what time it is until they check a clock. Only then will the time collide with the clock – and in general ruin both of them. Because in Haiti, the time is different from the clock – the clock is what foreign people use to divide the day into; where has time is a natural thing which runs according to its own devices. That means if you wait for someone in Haiti, use should allow at least an hour of time for deciding that they actually are late. But late means a different thing, too. Late means that you had something more important to do, and you might get an agreement from the person who is waiting for you. For example, chasing girl to a man is more important then anything else in this world. And the man is waiting for him will agree to that, in fact he may be chasing different girl himself.
But the elderly nurse was on Western time, where the clock and the time were more or less the same. But Jules did not know how long she would be doing something, which is different from Haitian time. In the time that the nurse was using, their were steps and each one had an expected amount of time. If this time were running over, she would say something. Jules realized that the problem was that she was not in the inner circle of developed world time, a fact which she had to correct. Once corrected, the nurse would know to inform her of where Jules was in the schedule. Because in developed world time, one could envision a schedule with every 15 minutes block assigned to what the person was doing. And in a larger sense, what every person was doing. If you think about it, this is a conflict: the nurses and doctors were on developed world time, while most of the patients were on Haiti's clock, not time. So you can imagine the foibles which occurred when the two came into conflict.
She decided that it was time to lift her voice, which was cracked for not using it, and said: “How much time will you take, good nurse?” She said this in French, not Haitian Creole – to emphasize that she knew French quite well . The majority in this cement block recovering ward would not know French, or at least not as well as they said they did.
At the other end of the ward, with its shabby drapes and dying patients, the nurse answered back: “ I will be to you in 15 minutes.” Which was all that Jules needed to know – because it meant that she was graced with developed worlds time, and she was inserted into the sheet – metaphorically speaking. This caused her to relax, and wait for the nurse to come up to her in her light blue skirt. She also realized that she had missed her appointment, because her delusion that the clock next to her bed was wrong disintegrated in two the realization that the clock was almost never wrong by more than a view minutes. Especially a digital clock.
This having been done, she decided to see if her phone was still on her – in a more contemporary hospital, the phone would have been removed – but she was betting that in this gray dingy hospital, this may not have been done. Or it would have been placed next to her things on a chair.

Phone where was the phone? Eventually she saw that it was next to her things, so she got up and moved to – making sure that the nurse did not see this. Then she got back into the hospital bed, which was rickety and supported by four steel tubes to sending down to rubber wheels.

She admitted this because she had often been on the other side of the divide: checking patients and listening to their problems – while distributing medications. A few times she had to do more poignant work, such as giving a patient an enema. But that was a long time ago when she did that. In her mind she saw an older men, and while he was putting up with the embarrassing features of the program, he was on his face bright and somewhat easier. He was talking, mainly to erase what was being done to his bowel. He talked about the medications he used, and the ritual of his day. If you think about it, he had little real defense against what was happening to him. In her memory, she felt sorry for him – but she did not know whether she actually did, or the memory of feeling sorry for the old man was a figment of her imagination.
But the memory faded into the background, and in the present, she dialed up the doctor.
It rang. 5 times. And then a message came up, which was at least his own message as opposed to the default message.
The words were repeated three times: in French, in English, and finally in Haitian Creole. It was in a very soft voice and it was both low and soft: “Allo. This is Dr. Kenold, I am unable to answer the phone, please leave a message.” She rather expected that he would not answer the phone, so she rattled off her prepared speech.

“Allo. This is Jules – I was injured yesterday, and only recently regained consciousness. I am very sorry for missing our appointment, but as you can hear, it was not my intention. Please give me a ring later on when you can, and we can set up a different point. I am sorry that I have missed my chance to sample the cuisine, and it is likely that arrangements for the next meeting will be more spare.”
she then hung up the phone, and waited for the nurse. It would be at least 10 minutes, because her work had gone quickly. It was too bad that Doctor Kenold did not pick up the phone, because right now a conversation would have been much more to her liking. C'est la vie, she thought.
She said of and looked for the nurse, and to her surprise the nurse was actually ahead of schedule, and walking down the concrete floor in her direction.
When the nurse reached her, the first thing that Jules noticed was that the voice was stern, and yet it had a dose of warmness. It was not extremely warm, not the way a friend would greet someone in Haiti, but still warm enough. “How are you doing? I noticed you spoke French, and if I may say so, quite well.”
“Yes, I was trained by nuns – it was at the insistence of my father. Bought I want to ask you questions.”
The nurse checked her watch, and then said: “ I have only five minutes to answer these questions, because I have another problem which is for more serious than informing a patient about things, I hope you understand.”
“But of course, the boil down to two distinct questions: who was it who brought me here? And have my parents – especially my mother – been told of my presence here?”
“You were brought in by a man, so I do not know him myself nor have met him, but I can get you a description of him. But he said he was only a friend. As to the second question, though there was some discussion about using your phone to contact your parents, or husband, we decided to not engage ourselves with your phone, so no one has been told that you are here. Perhaps you would like to contact them.” she reached over to where the phone was, but saw that it was gone.
So Jules replied: “ I have it here, the phone that is. So I will call my mother up and explain where I am, if you could give me the name of the hospital.”

“We “ - a royal we, if ever Jules had heard one - “are an annex to Sant Medikal Santo vingt.” it was a generic description, though she knew where it was – it was actually farther away from her home. But no matter, she could call her mama and explain where she was. Though she knew that talking about what was being done at the ceremony was completely forbidden – her mother, while she had done such things in her youth, was presently opposed to anything other than the Roman Catholic Church. Jules imagined there was some reason beyond a loyalty to the church, perhaps it was a quarrel with a mamba some years back. At least that is what she thought, because she saw her mama exchanging words with a different mamba and they never went back to anyplace associated with her.
Nurse went away, and she was hesitating. It was the hesitation which bothered her the most, she did not know where it came from. It reminded her of a story that she once read, a very long time ago. It was in a paperback with paper covers, and a bit ratty – and covered with notes. Big story was in a chapter on Proust – and it told the story of a man lifting a cup of tea – or was it a woman, she was not quite sure. Then she remembered that it was person was Proust, himself. And how in it saves me a lot of his memory to run and described as Celtic daily and the souls – and the states that no logical basis could describe. The hesitation that lifted like a fogjust as is the way the narrator suddenly had their memory return.
That she did not realize that it was only much later that man who wrote the hand-written missive on the front cover was her father, and that he wrote it to her mother. She had read this is at least 100 times this occurred to her. And her memory change in an instant, first she was a little girl reading about creating a cup of tea and remembering different things – but when the realization that it was a book from her father to her mother – at a time when they had not been married, and for she even existed – she became an adult, and realized this was the first tangible evidence of what would become love, and therefore became the germ of hate.
And it was a hate which was at least as intense as the love that preceded it – so much so that even when she talked directly to her mama, she got no reply back that could be translated into any language that she knew. It was not crying – exactly – it was more like a cat's yowl, or perhaps a grr mixed with a yowl. So it remained its own thing, neither language nor sound, but something in between which only her mother and herself shared.
It occurred to her, that she was in a state of memory: she was remembering how it was a remembered form of memory – and that she did not know where her memory started and her mama's memory ended. But then she woke up because the nurse had come back to explaining something: “You were brought in and you talked to a doctor, he is now in hospital, and will be back shortly.”
Although she did not remember speaking to anyone when she was brought in, she took the nurses word for it. It was obviously something that was not remembered but had actually happened. She folded her legs up while raising her back – and then finally coming to a more or less sitting position. Though she did not know it her eyes brightened, because there might be answers has to why she was brought in to this place. And answers were something that delighted her know when, because there was closure, and closure was good – at least to her.
At last a female doctor with a long white lab uniform was talking with a younger nurse, who directed the doctor towards the pair in the next to last cubicle. The doctor was extremely young, and definitely from some foreign land. Her skin was somewhat tallow – as if she were from Italy or Mexico. The difference between such people was beyond Jules purview – they all looked alike to her.
“I just got in the hospital, and you do not remember our conversation from yesterday, is that correct?” the doctors voice was clipped, rapid, and professional. She was also pretty, though not beautiful, and bunched her black hair in a bun – and had no makeup on whatever, which was the most deeply shocking thing about her in Jules eyes.
“That is correct, I do not remember it, in fact I only remember waking up just 30 minutes ago.” Unconsciously, Jules sped up her voice to match the pace that the doctor had set. This meant that they were talking slightly faster than was natural for Haitian speakers – or rather, it was different in what was sped up and what was slowly spoken. Haitian speakers would talk enormously quickly about certain things and enormously slowly about other things. But the doctor - and while she was talking with her, Jules – made every syllable enunciated and spoken with the same quickness. If she had thought about it, quickness was a feature of Haitian speech, but not of international French speech.
“So you do not remember anything that we talked about? Nothing at all?”
“ I just said so. Was there something important?”
At this point the doctor sat on the bottom of the bed, and a look of concern entered in to her face. “I am going to tell you something, and I want you to listen to everything that I have a say before phrasing a reply – because it is … difficult to grasp all at once.”
Jules began to tense up, because she knew that no one would tell her this unless it was extremely bad for her to hear it. In fact, it was again something that she had been on the other side of. Such as the time, a few years back, when she told a woman sitting in a hospital bed that she was not going to have children. It was the kind of thing where were wailing began almost immediately, and would not stop.
“We talked for a number of minutes, and I think - though you will want a second opinion – that you have a bipolar like condition. Do you want me to explain what that is?”
Being herself a nurse – she did not wish to have a recitation of what bipolar meant – but the expression on her face quite literally shocked the doctor. The doctor, in her frame of mind arising from a medical point of view, was expecting surprise, or crying, or some kind of variation of the two of those states of mind. Anyone of these would have been usual, and the doctor expected them. But what happened was something quite different.

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