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martes, 21 de julio de 2009

Crónicas de un cerebro enfermo XIII.

January 22, 2009.

I am writing to inform you that there is not much medical information available to share with you at this moment because I convinced my doctors to postpone the M.R.I., mammography and ultrasound so that I could spend Christmas at home, away from hospitals. I finally had my MRI, the mammography and an ultra sound during January 12th and 13th, right after Carla’s birthday. She was born on January 11th like Eugenio María de Hostos, but I named her Carla rather than María Eugenia. “Carla” means “womanly strong” and I thought that a little more than education (“La educación de la mujer”) is needed to succeed in this world as a woman. Between Carla’s birthday, and all the medical exams, I cannot provide you yet with any medical facts, but I can share with you a little something about my own perceptions of my progress.

First of all, I am now able to walk in an exercise machine while moving my arms up and down for about 40 minutes. I am also lifting weight for around 20 minutes. This is an incredible feat for someone who did not have any reflex in both her legs only one year ago. My coordination is now perfect, something remarkable given the neurological condition usually caused by brain tumors and surgery. I thank God every day for each of the steps of this long ladder of recovery. My biggest accomplishment is having recovered my ability to read relatively fast without headaches or eye’s problems. Last summer I struggled to reread all the books and articles for the class I was due to teach during the first semester of the year 2008-2009, since I could not remember anything or understand my own class notes. The memory came back in the process of reading everything as if it were the first time.

Have you had the chance to read a book for the first time more than once? The joy of the first reading of a book does not compare with further re-readings that are done for the professional and analytical purpose of a college course. This time around, I saw things that I did not noticed the tenth time I read those same books for different classes. I no longer see the brain tumor and surgery as an impediment, but as an experience that re-opened my eyes, shifting my perception of things that were already too common or familiar to be pleasurable. Pain, in other words, makes the path to joy and pleasure.

So happy I was with the newly recovered joy of reading, that I carried Nuestra señora de la noche (Our Lady of the Night) to read at the hospital (Auxilio Mutuo) while waiting for the mammography and ultrasound. Now, for those who have not read this novel, let’s just say that a lady wandering around in the middle of the night is most probably not a virgin. I don’t want to spoil your first reading because you might not enjoy, like me, the pleasure of reading everything for the first time more than once. God forbids that you have to have a brain tumor to enjoy such a pleasure! In any case, the novel captured my attention in such a way that I forgot were I was, and started living in the world of Isabel la Negra without even noticing that I was seated in front of a nun and an “old lady of the day time” who were probably offended by both the title of the book and my facial expressions while enjoying its reading.

Now, Jaime, Daniel Torres and Leo Cabranes, know most of my stories regarding this matter. I have told them what had happened to me before when someone mis-interpreted my face while I was reading at the library. Daniel thought that the best reading is a mis-reading, while Leo suggested that the guy who thought I was flirting with, probably found himself very lucky to find the “Lady of the Bus” (Sonia Braga) available in the most private space of a library. Jaime saw my suffering face while reading in a train, and wrote a poem describing the pain of reading Morirás lejos, by José Emilio Pacheco. Let’s just say that the less strange thing that had happened to me was that, while reading La Celestina in a Greyhound Bus, a woman who looked like an old prostitute approached me to let me know that she wanted to read what I was reading. When I told her that my book was in Spanish, she still asked me to share with her the story. Now, imagine this: it was like telling the story of Celestina to her contemporary version. Her eyes lighted up with the drama, and she even added her own questions and commentaries with the authority of someone who knew first hand how to walk the streets for a living.

This time around I hit the jackpot again! I guess the title of the book, and the fact that I was fully enjoying it while even forgetting that I was wearing a front opened shirt while waiting for the medical procedure, was enough to make the nun, and the old lady in front of me, belief that my short hair definitely meant that I was about to enter into a Magdalene House as a penitent whore. The nun was properly wearing her habit, the old woman covered her opened shirt with a long sleeve sweater, and there I was, exposing my upper body self while reading Mayra Santos’ story about Isabel la Negra, Our Lady of the Night. What can I tell you? I am now carrying a little medal of Virgin Mary, along with the booklet about the joys of virginity that the nun gave me before leaving the waiting room to start her medical procedure. Hers was surely longer than mine, since she needed to take off her habit before been violated by a mammography and an ultrasound. But I belief she enjoyed her pain her own way. She might be even happier for trying to save me from my sinful path. I dressed up fast to continue reading Our Lady of the Night, while carrying the booklet about virginity in the back pocket of my jeans. The medal of Virgin Mary is still hanging on my cell phone. Thanks God for the pleasure of reading!

Love,

Carmen R3

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