Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Country Doctor

Then I am stripped of my clothes and, with my fingers in my beard and my head tilted to one side, I look at the people quietly. I am completely calm and clear about everything and stay that way, too, although it is not helping me at all, for they are now taking me by the head and feet and dragging me into the bed. 

They lay me against the wall on the side of wound. Then they all go out of the room. 
The door is shut. 
The singing stops.

 Clouds move in front of the moon. 
The bedclothes lie warmly around me. 
In the open space of the windows the horses’ heads sway like shadows. 

“Do you know,” 
I hear someone saying in my ear, 
“my confidence in you is very small. You were only shaken out from somewhere. You don’t come on your own feet. Instead of helping, you give me less room on my deathbed. The best thing would be if I scratch your eyes out.” 
“Right,” I say, 
“it’s a disgrace. But now I’m a doctor. What am I supposed to do? Believe me, things are not easy for me either.” 
“Should I be satisfied with this excuse? Alas, I’ll probably have to be. I always have to make do. I came into the world with a beautiful wound; that was all I was furnished with.”
 “Young friend,” I say, “your mistake is that you have no perspective. I’ve already been in all the sick rooms, far and wide, and I tell you your wound is not so bad. Made in a tight corner with two blows from an axe. Many people offer their side and hardly hear the axe in the forest, to say nothing of the fact that it’s coming closer to them.” 
“Is that really so, or are you deceiving me in my fever?”
“It is truly so. Take the word of honour of a medical doctor.” 

He took my word and grew still. But now it was time to think about my escape. The horses were still standing loyally in their place. Clothes, fur coat, and bag were quickly gathered up. I didn’t want to delay by getting dressed; if the horses rushed as they had on the journey out, I should, in fact, be springing out of that bed into my own, as it were. One horse obediently pulled back from the window. I threw the bundle into the carriage. The fur coat flew too far and was caught on a hook by only one arm. Good enough. I swung myself up onto the horse. The reins dragging loosely, one horse barely harnessed to the other, the carriage swaying behind, last of all the fur coat in the snow. 
“Giddy up,” I said, but there was no giddying up about it. We dragged slowly through the snowy desert like old men; for a long time the fresh but inaccurate singing of the children resounded behind us:

“Enjoy yourselves, you patients.
The doctor’s laid in bed with you.”

Franz Kafka

No comments: