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You know, Doctor, I like these therapy sessions because they’re completely informal. None of that lying down on the couch, your sitting behind me with a pad of paper and a pen in hand, calling to mind an envoy sent by the Holy Office in search of a heretic who will justify the flames of the Inquisition. With us it’s different. Seated like this at your writing table, one facing the other, the game is more honest, albeit not always friendly. As a matter of fact, I’m the one who talks more; at times I realize I’m quite verbose, now lying a little, or better yet, dogging issues, then going on with stories that have nothing to do with what’s important. But I swear all that I have been telling you in these last sessions consists of an honest search for something I sensed is hidden behind what I was saying but which I hadn’t figured out. ‘. . .’ ‘Wait, I’m not going to tell you right off what it is—and not because I’m unsure of my discovery—for it’s a truth so incandescent that at the moment it occurred to me, it almost blew me away. For months now, I have been going around in circles, until all of a sudden I woke up this morning with the idea, so clear, so logical, so . . .’ It cost me a lot to arrive at this conclusion, but, before telling me if I’m right, try to remember how I told you about my astonishment as I was regaining my senses while I was lying down on a stretcher in a dark corridor of an emergency hospital, without even knowing how I got there. Let’s recapitulate, and see if it’s not what I’m thinking. At the beginning, on the operating table, wearing a horrible hospital gown, a stained sheet covering my legs. The cold room, the assisting nurses (two) going from one side to the other. Time is passing. I cannot focus my thoughts on anything. If I hadn’t felt the hardness of the operating table, I would say that I’m floating in space, and little by Elisa Lispector Out of Sheer Despair 42 elisa lispector little a pain, at first annoying and vague, gradually becomes so sharp and so overwhelming that it’s difficult to pinpoint where it is. I feel sorry for myself, and at the same time I’m actually angry at myself for being there, in that situation. As a matter of fact, I feel more anger than pity, as if I were suffering a well-deserved punishment. ‘Doesn’t this already tell you something?’ Finally, one of the assisting nurses, skinny, pale, tiny, nothing more than a bird, pulls a small stool near me, sits down, leans her face really close to mine, takes my hand—my inner strength gives in; I’m relenting—she asks my name, smoothes my hair. She asks if I am alone or do I have someone with me in the hospital—and by now I do not feel so alone. She wants to comfort me in my sorrow, and in a short time she begins to enumerate her own problems. Imagine, she was sick for two days; she even got a shot (she showed me her skinny arm marked with a red blotch); and the institute didn’t even want to cover the days she was out, she, of all people, who never misses a day and who works in two hospitals, doing a full shift in each hospital, and also studies at night, because she has a widowed mother and six little brothers to support. I forget my own worries, and even my spreading pain, and begin to offeradvice:Don’tdothat,youngwoman.Don’toverwork,becauseit willruinyou.Afterward,nothingleftforyouorforyoursixlittlebrothers. Itriedaswelltoworkabovemycapacity,forotherreasons,andtheresult wasabeautifulholeinmyrightlung,andtherewasnopneumothorax thatcouldremedyit.AndsinceIhadnochoice,Iabandonedmystudies and continued only to work, and in the beginning even that was hard for me to endure. Imagine that just two weeks after the phrenicotomy, withthebandagestillonmyneck,Ihadtoreturntothetypewriter.But I’mtough.Asyoucansee,it’shardformetodie.Evenafteranaccident liketoday’s,I’mspeakingtoyouasifnothinghadhappened.Takecare of yourself, young woman, I again added. A mist blurs my vision, I feel as if I were vanishing. I come back to my old self. ‘But where is this surgeon who doesn’t show up?’ ‘The delay is not with the surgeon,’ responds my little bird almost in a whisper. ‘It’s the anesthesiologists, who are very busy. At...


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MARC Record
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