The Taste of the Apple
Явор Емилов Тодоров (явор64)Раздел: Проза на чужд език Цикъл:
Miro didn`t know why he was in the psychiatry. They didn`t say him who placed the complaint against him. Most likely, it was her mother who might presume that her son was an alcoholic.
- Well, I sometimes went back home from the night disco, - Miro was saying. - I forgot my key and drum on the glass to my mother to open the door. Who was not drunk sometimes? Can my father in law from Odessa to sue to put me in a psychiatry? - he was asking sometimes Yavor.
After Yavor this wasn`t possible. And it was a violation of human rights to hold in a way a person in psychiatry without explain him why. Miroslav`s diagnosis was schizophrenia - this may mean many very unclear things. Yavor was knowing the definitions given for schizophrenia in the books - visual, auditory or olfactory and tangible hallucinations, unfounded fears and strange, curious, false or distorted notions of reality. In this last category, it seems, one can enter each.
- Well, Miro, - Yavor was somehow calming him. - We are all crazy. Who is not crazy is not normal. And how many great people are crazy! And the epilepsy? Disease of geiuses. And the autism which is a kind of schizophrenia? I read about a great scientist in the eighteen century, a Lord, with great state, who lived totally isolated from the world and never changed his only costume, he talked with the help of notes - all that is called autism - and in spite of it they consider him one of the greatest founders of the science. Lord Cavendish. Dostoevski was epileptic. Gogol also had been a schizophrenic. And how much more. And all these politicians, these great conquerors - have they been normal? Not only that they were insane but they were able to infatuate in its objectives the people. I have heard about psychiatrist that are crazy, I know personally two doctors with whom I was in the hospital of Kurilo.
- Well, - Miro was agreeing, - but it is very uneasy to me when they ask me where I have been so long time. Our town is small, everything is known.
Miro was looking very normal. Always when he was in psychiatry Yavor was wandering how normally the patients behave. But the Fat Man was very crazy. He was very thick and very agressive, he was slapping around and harassing everyone. They had to put him in isolation - there was a room with bars, so he could not harass people in so nasty way. However the staff didn`t care.
In psychiatry man sometimes briefly make friendship with someone, then for nothing in the world he can`t remember how was the name of this guy. One remember only a detail, for example his tatoo. On the hand of this guy was written: "God forgive, I don`t!" But he was a friend, though unknown and with forgotten name. He made a massage of the stiff legs of Yavor and he didn`t ask anything because he knew that Yavor hadn`t anything. The legs of Yavor were stiff and exhausted by the endless walking in the long corridors of the ward, located in the form of the letter "L". They gave him him a large dose of haloperidol, the worst neuroleptic, which made him constantly moving. He was moving from breakfast to dinner on both corridors and he was stopping only for a while on some bad, asking Miro, the Unknown Friend Bai Petko from Karlukovo for a butt, then he lifted up again and again he was going in the corridors, along with many others who also didn`t stay longtime in one place. And in this way - till night, untill complete exhaustion. His muscles were paining him, his feet were paining him, his waist was hurting him. And all this - the exhaustion, the lack of money and cigarettes, the dirty blankets, the Fat Men who constantly was terrorizing the others and like most of all - Yavor, all this was turning thw ward into something which reminded in many aspects the experience of a prison, a custody or directly to say - a concentration camp.
The unknown friend who made a massage of the stiff legs of Yavor seemed very normal until it comes to his wife. He was thinking, the poor, that his wife has tried to poison him with sour cabbage. He needed treatment, it was clear, but according to Yavor the main was someone to talk to him. This was a job for psychologist but in the hospital at that time there wasn`t a psychologist. Well, but was Bai Petko from Karlukovo really sick? They called him Bai Petko from Karlukovo because he was from Karlukovo which was located eight kilometers from the hospital. The problem of Bay Petko was that he was drinking of grief, because he failed to marry in his time. Large nice man, even looker, but it was his fate. He was drinking and after he was drunk, he fell asleep in the center of the village, but he has not reach the phase of alcoholic yet. He was about fifty-five years old, huge, with rough hands of master builder. He regularly was giving cigarettes to Yavor because he had no relatives to send him and he was not retired to have money from his pension and for that reason they forbade him to go to the little shop. Bai Petko was very generous and every day Yavor was receiving from him a few cigarettes and sometimes a wafer. Once Bay Petko gave him an iron lev in condition to return it after the return from the little shop, because you should to have money to let you go there. The heavy iron door pounded and Yavor saw for the first time the yard of the hospital, laden in snow, the high cliffs jutting out from everywhere and the luxury lodge, perched on the highest cliffs, built in the past by the communist chiefs. On the llittle shop the was nothing but waffles and Turkish delight, but Yavor was out to see fresh air and not for waffles and Turkish delight. There was no money for them. It was shining beautiful and merry winter sun, the snow was melting and the waterspouts were dripping, the white snow was contrasting with red tiles and even the dirty yellow coat seemed not so dirty in this beautiful and clear day.
- I want you to call me Bai Petko The Great! - Bai Petko insisted. - They call me in Karlukovo Bai Petko The Big because I am big, but I am not just big, I am great! Right?
So it was because Bai Petko was a very nice but unhappy man because he was not able to marry. He loved much the football, he was a big fan and he loved to tell to Yavor of the time when he was young and George Asparuhov had a match in Sofia, he was up to the train and went to see him playing. George Asparuhov was a football genius, Yavor knew that, although he was not interested in football, but he listened the old man carefully and he thought - here`s what things make the man happy, he keep them forever and he remembers them, now old, and he shares them with some unknown guy. Otherwise Yavor was not interseted in football. Only the chess and the boxing were interesting for him.
And the life in the department was continuing day after still nasty, the words were weak to describe all the misery - the ceiling was leaking from the heavy wet snow, there is no heating nor warm clothes for the patients and to wear the civilian clothes with which they had come to the hospital was not allowed. It was cold, damn cold. Yavor was laying for hours under the thin blankets and he felt how lice wiggle in his body and he started to think that he would die. Constantly he was hungry. It was not a hospital, it was a concentration camp.
The patients in the ward were forgotten by The God and the people. "My observations shows, doctor Pachev said, - that over time the relatives lose all hope and cease to be interested. That`s all."
It was true and beside that, the hospital was away, discarded in this desert nook of the mountain, the times were severe and the people had no money. However, sometimes the relatives of a patient came to visit him. When he returned from visiting a croud of sick man surrounging him, they reached their hands and begged half-imploringly, half-threatening:"Give me some bed, give me a cigarette, give me a little from the salami!" Once Yavor was going to seek a cigarette from someone and he saw in a room a great crowd - the patients were fighting before a bed, a dozen people were struggling more insparingly than beasts, they were tearing some envelopes and something wrapped up in newspapers. When after five minutes the battle was over on the bed was sitting only an old man from the village Dragovishtitsa, near Sofia, Yavor was knowing him. How they were able to crack his head Yavor never knew.
The old man was sitting on his bed, his luggage was spoiled, the blood was running from his cracked head. The old man was crying and swearing.
Two months passed. During these two months Yavor lost about twenty kilograms from cold and hunger. His cheeks had sunk, he beseemed to man sent in Siberian colony at the time of Stalin. During these two months three people died before his eyes -from stress. They collapsed as they were in the hallway. A fog fall in front of one`s eyes, the knees bend - Yavor was knowing this state. He had received a viral infection, some influenza. He collapsed in one corner of the hall, just before lunch. " This is the death!" - it was his last thought, just before loosing consciousness. They treated him with injections of antibiotics, the fluid was penetrating painfully in the muscles. Those three also collapsed so, then they took them somewhere and then Yavor heard they died. If one would ask any of the doctors, he would explain they had weak hearts or something, but for himself Yavor was sure they died of stress - the conditions were inhuman but it wasn`t possible to tell about it. As one can not tell in its true fullness the experience to be at the front, for example. The words are weak.
- Yavor, Yavor! Who is Yavor? - They shouted his name from the corridor. Yavor showed up outside. - Quickly, the doctor is looking for you!
Dr. Pachev was sitting behind his desk - with a bald head, big, heavy, impressive. His writing mashine with sheet in it was lying before him on the desk. The doctor was writing continuously epycrisys and judicial expertises. Books was rolling on the couch covered with white sheet. Yavor reached his head and read: "Forensic Psychiatry", "Psychiatry. Part I", "Neurology and Psychiatry", "Psychiatry in Clinical Practice".
A pile of completely unnecessary textbooks. When people do not have want to eat and die from cold who need textbooks? After several years, an acquaintance of Yavor, a psychiatrist,
Dr Irina Lazarova, told him that at the same time when he was there they published in the newpapers: "The patients in Karlukovo eat grass!" Who needed those textbooks, memory of the students`year or from doctor`s travels to Sofia from time to time?
- Sit down, please! - the doctor invited him and offered him a cigarette. He wasn`t smoking. On the table was lying an open box of chocolates. The doctor offered him a candy.
- I decided to discharge you. You and Hinko. You are intelligent people, I can not let you die here!
- I am with lawsuit. - Yavor hastened to say.
- I take the responsibility, - the doctor said. - After more than twenty-five years of practice I can afford to disobey to laws!
To Yavor this sounded like a phrase from American Hollywood film actor. But it was true.
The doctor was discharging them - Yavor and Hinko, the crazy poet from Pleven, who, wrapped in the green military coat, nobly recitated:
Now the madmen
are my friends
recite them poems.
Hinko gave to Yavor a fine poetry collection. On the back were mentioned all companies, banks and all institutions that had sponsored the booklet. "Write me a letter, - Hinko promised, - and I will give you all companies that can sponsor you!" Yavor was dreaming to publish a book. But sponsors were hard to find. He never trusted Hinko, but he agreed with him and he was promissing he would write to him after he would be discharged. But the experience had taught him that people encountered in such places would quickly forget each other after. And when they would have been discharched him he would be overwhelm with problems. The first would be to find a new job. After so long an absence and namely in psychiatry they would surely ask him to apply to leave. He might not agree but then they would find somehow a reason to order his dissmissal. And if he was stubborn he would appeal in court. Maybe it would be better to accept their invitation. All employers proceed so. Then he had to seek new job, new housing, all over again. He wouldn`t have the desire to write to Hinko letters, associated with illusory hopes.
However Yavor was watching to Hinko as a friend. But that friendship was kind of soldier fashion - you love each other because you are together, finally you exchange your addresses to write to each other or even to turn aside if you are travelling to a foreign city but, in fact, you never do it.
Yavor still could not believe he got rid of. He believed only when the orders, issued by the doctor, started fast-faster to run. First they brough him to the store and they delivered him his civilian clothes that he was received at the hospital with, it was a huge sport bag. There were sport shoes and training suit in it. The police had uploaded him to the ambulance without to give him the opportunity to leave his luggage. They did not give you any chance to prove that the application of a signal that you were mentally ill with crisis at the moment was wrong or maliciuos. And exactly this was the case this time. In principle Yavor had his mental problem. And it was very strange and rare. At least that is what was written in The International Classification of Diseases - 9, a document issued by The World Health Organization. He fell in love with a girl. They had dates sometime. The girl was elegant constitution, so delicate and slender that she seemed quite like a child. But he liked her. But nothing happened, after a while she began to refuse to come to dates. And it started - Yavor constantly was thinking about her. And when he paced on the streets of the Sofia, everything was remaining him of her. It seemed he was feeling sensory deficits, communication deficits - also. It seemed at that time he was pretty lonely. Without seeking to it he was looking at the ads, and ads in Sofia was to spare - huge billboards on the streets, and posters, posted anywhere, bus ads and ads on television. And how strange, often it started to happen that the ads was creating strange and complex associations connected with this impossible love. After all, the ads are multimedia art which has everything - poetry, vision, music. And it is supposed that the art works exactly this way, unlocking chains of associations. Sometimes the images of women in the ads were with a distant resemblance to Ralitsa, so the name of the girl was and then things were clear. Another time, the very positive message of the ad was tickling his sensory hunger and ultimately again it reminded him of her. But yet without external impressions he would thinking about her. There was a problem in their relations. And all his mind was turning into searchlight, trying to light the dark corners of the problem. Maybe she just had a new friend? Maybe she, her shell, her anatomy and physiology were the problem? This completely child constitution in which in fact there was nothing female except the long hair and the gentle countenance. In the end she had no bust or even a hint of hip extension, anything that is typically associated with femininity. Sometimes the ads were bending him at strange thoughts, for example that her sexual orientation was different. Wasn`t she an active lesbian? Thoughts, associations, analysis and introspection, all provoked by the advertising, by video seen even for a moment on television, of songs heard on the radio, by accident and in random places - in the cafe, in the bus, on the street. This was the problem of Yavor. But he had gradually learnt himself to control his problem, he knew it after several hospitalizations and he was already sure that it wouldn`t happen again. But anonymous foe had called the police, the prosecution, the psychiatry and had stated he was not well. And there was no way to know who was the man. And the period of search and expertise was very long - a month. During this month the doctor had to talk with him, to make relevant conclusions, to write an expertise, to send it to the court, then court proceedings should be set, and it would pass more and more time and only on the designated by the court date the man faces the judge and the jury, consisting of men of seventy and more years, and only then he could, if he wanted, to defend that he wasn`t ill - ever, or at that time.
The psychiatry is a relative science, there are no accurate methods of assessment, based on measurements with the aid of technology, the psychiatrist had to be like a writer who unscrew the cover box of the skull of the subject of the study and examine the contents. But the hospitals were overcrowded and doctors had no time for long conversations. Therefore elite scientists in the field were leading campaigns to protect human rights. But in practice nothing changed. Dr. Pachev decided to let Yavor to leave long before his case and he hadn`t right at it. But they were slowing the scheduling of the court proceedings. The courts were overcrowded mostly with criminal matters. Dr. Pachev was dude: "After more than twenty-five years practice I can afford to break the law!"
They gave to Yavor four levs from the business accounts to buy a ticket for the train. He shoulder the bag. Like a scene from Sunday gangster film with Alain Delon the heavy iron door of the ward rapped behind him. One episode of his life was gone.
Fresh snow had piled up, deep to the ankles. Yavor was footing bravely through the snow towards the little station. All around was white, surprising fresh and good. Beautiful, beautiful it was all around like it was created by God. The water under the bridge of Iskar was shining as ice sword. Full of joy and with high spirits Yavor was footing to the station. From the morning no one was walking to it yet, there was no track, it was hard going. And still more difficult was to climb the stairs covered with snow. The station was widely glass space, as hangar, built in a different era. Now it was seen that there was no one to maintain it - scrabbles on the walls from the ubiquitous small hooligans, the signs of decline was running everywhere, the station got like abandonned house that is gradually absorbed and destroyed be the weeds. But it was cold. There was no one there - no one to sell coffee, sandwiches, cheese pastry. The complete desolation of the site, abandoned due to the crisis, was suppressing. White, cold and desolate. Cold and nothing. It was good that after half an hour Hinko dragged himself to the station, wrapped in his greenish greatcoat, with some terrible summer shoes with missing shoe-laces, at least two numbers bigger. Hinko asked Yavor what was this huge luggage, Yavor explained him that in the bag he had a lot of things, including sport shoes and sports wear.
- Sell me those shoes, - Hinko asked, - that I can go in Pleven!
These were some sneakers, fake "Adidas", as they were leatherette and they cost twelve levs. Yavor sold them to him for five and Hinko put them on immediately. After another half an hour few people from the staff, who lived a half an our away by train, dropped at the station. There were Dr. Nikiforova, Dr. Chavdarov and Dr. Pachev. They got on the train, from somewhere Hinko also got on. Yavor was just standing there and watching. Then he waved his hand. Dr. Nikiforova waved to him too.
Again a white wilderness and heavy white silence. The minutes was trailing slowly. Alone as black stump in the white universe Yavor was sticking up and pensively looking at oneself in the glass window of the desolate station. On his jacket was said: "Save the planet!", "No claim!", "Act now!" In English. Yavor was asking himself what they wanted to say. In which way one had to save the planet, what meant not to claim and what it meant to act now? What kind of people had ordered the design of this jacket? Probably they would have been Americans. Maybe Canadians. For example, Canadian biologists that investigate the behaviour of wild birds in outlying forests. Yavor became sad. He wanted to be Canadian biologist who was studying the behaviour of wild birds in the marshes of America. He wanted to have a jeep and a colleague, unavailable to his attentions, fair-haired and blue-eyed, mysteriously unfriended. To have a jeep and in it - a flask of whisky. And a wooden hut in the forest in which to drink with her hot black coffee with lots of sugar.
He was sad and had no one to say to how sad he was. How beautiful the human dreams are! In Sofia there was a schizophrenic who had written a poem which started as follows:
To the garbage bin
I see three
They yearn for
Dog, and house, and bread.
And I would give them
My last shirt
But I am rich like them.
This verse was good.
Yes, the Canadian jeep had to had necessarily a dog - large, thick, breed English shepherdess - the most beautiful and funny dogs in the world.
It was good that the train to Sofia arrived. The beautiful dreams sometimes takes you too far. Yavor was dead with cold and very hungry. And the train was not properly warmed. There was almost no people in it. Yavor was stationed in an empty compartment to the window. He was dying from cold. He had five levs derived from the sale of the sneakers. But in the train there was nothing to buy.
He was looking out the window transiting black stem on a white background and he was thinking what to expect further. Probably nothing good. In the hospital there was a boy that was sheared in a very special way - naked skull and a plait left on the crown. Not exactly a queue but a quiff, in this way was cut the old Bulgarians very, very long time ago. This young man was a former policeman:
- When I was discharged the first time from the hospital I was applying for a job in a security company. I had a colleague who was just out of prison. He was applying for a job with me. I was just released from psychiatry, he was just released from prison. He was appointed to the job and I was not. In Bulgaria there is nothing worst than to had been in psychiatry. It was true. He was knowing it from experience. It was an absolute truth.
He began to look by the window. His legs was paining him. In the hospital, who knows why, they had withdrawn his shoes, and he was given strange, outworn blue thongs. From the eternal cold he got feet rheumatism. They was paining him now and the famine was stronger and stronger, getting impossible, covering the entire universe, he had to eat something now. Under the table by the window there was an ashtray. In the iron ashtray with a lid labeled "Bulgarian State Railways" there was a core from an apple. Almost a whole apple. Some fed up, fickle man had cast it out. For sure he hadn`t been hungry. Yavor took it and examined it carefully. There was more to nibble from this core. It wasn`t so much dirty. He would not die if he eat from it. He nibbled it to the end very carefully. He put it back in the ashtray. There was no one to see him. Then he smoked a cigarette butt. The butt was pretty big and was not crashed. He had found it in the other, more small ashtray.
That was all. It remained only to wait. Soon the train would arrive in Sofia. At the station he would spent immediately the five levs which he had from Hinko. He would buy coffee and biscuits, a pack of cigarettes and a chocolate. He would eat everything at once in some warm cafe and he would look through the shop-window at the passers-by, stepping to somewhere. On the radio they would put a hit that would touch him. He would sing in accompaniment soundlessly. There were nice Bulgarian songs, with good texts. What better than completely unknown in the huge city to hear a hit while drinking one`s second cup of coffee? And to dream about something nice? To imagine that the words of the song relate to you? That was all. It remained only to wait.