María is a beautiful woman in our neighborhood who, every afternoon, very made up, is out walking her dog, and each time that I see her I can only think of Chekov.
Today she woke up with her body in pain, a little cough and feeling chills, so she decided to go to the polyclinic nearby. Once there in the emergency room, she was attended to by a young doctor who, upon seeing her, immediately sent her to get blood tests. When the results came back the doctor, not wasting any time, had her admitted to the hospital and covered her with a mosquito net to isolate her, saying that she had dengue fever, and he immediately informed her husband, who was in the waiting room.
When the ambulance came, they told him the husband couldn’t accompany her, but he flatly refused to let his wife go off without his even knowing where they were going to take her and both of them gave up going to the hospital and returned home.
Not even an hour had passed when a doctor and nurse showed up at the couple’s house to tell them that they had to go with the nurse. Faced with the insistence of the husband and his refusal to let her go alone, they agreed to his accompanying her. This time there was no ambulance, it was a closed transport from some State company, and inside there were other patients they had collected along the way. Maria said that this improvised transport drove like a kitchen mixer through the streets of the city, making stops to pick up others presumed ill, until it was almost like a crowded bus.
Finally they arrived at the old Covadonga hospital where, in a ward crowded with patients, they lined up to be treated. Maria asked who was last in line and said she had the impression, for a minute, that they were handing out beef, because the line was just as long as at the ration store. Her turn finally came and they sent her for tests, this time it was foreign students who were drawing blood; they poked her several times until finally they got it right. Sore all over, she huddled with her husband and waited patiently for the results.
After a while a doctor came and told her, “Ma’am you can go home, you don’t have dengue fever, you have a simple cold. Do you feel well?” “Perfect!” she replied, though she was quite dizzy, but fibbing she added, “I never felt better!”
She motioned to her husband and once she lost sight of the doctor Maria said that it reminded her of her early years at the University when she was running track and field as they made a rapid beeline for the Covadonga exit, and grabbed the first old taxi they saw to get home-sweet-home as fast as possible.
Fortunately, she’s well. She told me of her odyssey herself while, with her accustomed elegance, she walked her little dog, parading past my house.
December 7 2011