New Wind by Katarína Mlichová

25/08/2012 09:50

Some things go down my throat like a large shellfish without muscle. Like a strong arm down a bottle neck craving for drenched paper. Painted with too much ether by a foot in spasm I have become but a shadow of all colours I had used to sip from rainbows of our multi-verse... decaying in the hope of being found. In the waters of prehistoric time.

 

Born in the peace of mountains of rivers, hair of mountains, which have misled people into shallow valley bottoms, heavy with the wisdom of the only mankind ever to capture the essence of years by transmuting music and poetry. Craziness, the wind in the sails of my magic vessel…

 

First myth about blindness

 

Margaret Hilda was walking down a wide pavement, an eco-bag with vegetables in her left hand. She was trying to calm down her handbag’s mischievous jigging up and down with her right hand as it was hanging from her round right shoulder dangling against her hip or somewhere between the hip and the armpit. She did not feel the weight lying upon her heart. A mighty river was running along her steps, on her left, and her heart was in its womb. Heavy as it was, the flow of the mighty water was washing it smoothly along, at a pace brisker than her walk. Twice a week would she take this road, at ten or ten thirty in the morning to buy vegetables for her son, her husband and herself, she would walk another five minutes, reload her refreshed heart, so pure and waterlogged, onto her breast stiffened with new zeal, she would turn right and walk towards a bus stop and a newspaper stand peering out of the stop’s back.

 

She has devoted meticulous attention to the alimentation of her two monsters, as she used to call the males in her family. She adored a healthy lifestyle but even if she did not, she would be reliant on vegetables and other food that does not contain gluten, because of her son’s celiac disease. Of course, in her salad days she had been a fan of Italian breakfast - croissant with marmalade and cappuccino and then all day long just the air she breathed and arias she sang, and in the evening a real dish, preferably a cheap one, in one of the Chinese restaurants in the city. She had a glittering career ahead with the National Opera at those times. As a student she had already played two lead roles which garnered outstanding success and the director was crazy about her talent. Therefore, everyone was surprised when she decided to marry and start a family. Not that it was easy for her to arrive at that decision, she just loved her husband so much and believed that the only way for them to walk upon and simultaneously be happy as a couple was the one with children holding their hands.

 

So this was the first time she gave up a part of herself in favour of her femininity, in accordance with charming aged rules of society.

 

Two girls beheld the light of the world, the second one after a two-year intermission, as Margaret Hilda used to call it. They were a happy family with a happy mum. The woman was full of energy whatever frequent were childhood diseases and whatever acute their cry. They were not naughty girls though. Both of them could read before they went to school, knew the nicest sites in the region, enjoyed tourism, could swim, and carry on an intelligent conversation with their uncle, a law graduate. They showed respect for adults and were kind to their peers. Mummy was a real object of their veneration, for her energy was so youthful, so restless, so creative, although a bit nervous.

 

Another nine years and the gynaecologist confirmed her third pregnancy. She was 35 and knew there were certain risks associated with it at that age. A triple test at 17 years’ gestation proved there was a possibility the child would develop a Down syndrome. Normally the positive test indicates 2 percent of probability but the doctor said that from the age of 35 onwards the risk multiplies considerably. Margaret refused amniocentesis, which would mean a definitive verification, on the grounds of the threat of miscarriage.

 

 

“He was born on the Thanksgiving Day, and yet, it was not the fourth Thursday of October. I’ve baptised the day so because of the eternal gratitude I felt when I cast my eyes upon him – how unlike the girls on their birth day he was - the stomach unusually sticking out due to weak abdominal muscles, small low-set ears, (…) He was diverse but alive and I knew at that moment that not a single gloomy thought about this baby would ever occur to me.” Margaret noted this down in her diary some weeks after the delivery and from that time on she named her son Her Little Monster Wholesome the Archangel that she has usually shortened to Her Little Angel in spoken language. “Archangel,” because Gabriel was the one of which she knew from her childhood he was the messenger from God to humans, and if her husband had not opposed to this name she would have had him even christened “Gabriel.” As if she was constantly expecting a sort of miracle to happen through his fragile body… She loved him with all her boundless energy, and during the first two years of his life she instilled love for him in his sisters and her father, whom she gave the diary name My Big Monster Phoenix the Brave. Mr Brave. So would she call him at home, and he did not oppose.

 

“Margaret’s Little Angel” was tailored to suit a child with the diagnosis although she was quite unaware of that when it flashed into her mind. Nonetheless, first years were really more tranquil than those she had been used to. Little Angel slept 10 hours a day when he was seven weeks old. Margaret was bursting with energy. Doctors’ visits, hospital treatments, cardiology check-ups, X-rays of the child’s spine, a couple of other ultrasounds, persistently, every week or at least once a month. Therapists came to the house on a weekly basis. With these children everything starts later and takes longer – first steps, first words; so when it came to potty-training, instead of a month, it took two years for him to succeed. During that period, Margaret had retaken her job of a Music Theory teacher at a conservatoire, the boy was three then, and she ventured even into retaking her Teaching of Singing course, encouraged by the rest of the family and members of the community Little Angel and she had joined shortly after his birth, partly due to the decreased frequency of doctors’ sessions. She was in a cheerful mood, amiable, happy, at every hour of every day. Incessantly inexhaustible, indefatigable in her love for all three kids, always keeping… on the side of the angles, appearing as if in a constant state of elated mood, prone to talkativeness, sometimes a bit inappropriate, over-excited. Now, the major problem was the nappies, and she would ask Little Angel with gaiety a hundred times a day if he didn’t have to do a wee. Its effectiveness varied form one to zero successes a day but her zeal was resisting, even at night, when she often forgot about the sleep and stood at the cot leaning against its sides, observing her Angel whose full name contained “Monster” only because of the fear she often saw soaking through the eyes of strangers who caught sight of him. She would sit down at a kitchen table then, wrote some notes in her diary, then walk towards her child again and again, then to her sleeping husband, she would observe them both, both loves reserved. In the morning she would get up at six but often even before the alarm clock to prepare herself thoroughly for all commitments the day was about to spout, she would start with opening the diary on the first page and reading a quote she had picked up a couple of years ago from the Internet: “The learning potential of an individual with Down syndrome can be maximized through early intervention, good education, higher expectations and encouragement.” At a certain stage, she began to believe that with stubborn stamina she would be able to eliminate her son’s mental imparity. She would have kept the decision to herself, but it was too exciting a plan and on one occasion she couldn’t but tell her husband. The primary reason was that she needed to announce him a different bit of news – she had decided to work at the conservatoire full-time because their son direly needed a special therapist from an Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Germany. Mr Brave, who had been with concern surveying his wife during her night-watches for a few months, remained truly shocked since they had never spoken about such a manoeuvre together. Opposing her with rational arguments turned out useless as it produced heaps of distracted amiable words which were coming at pace faster than he was used to. He only managed to understand that she lacked money, which surprised him as it was only Thursday, and that she could not explain where she spent all the money he had given her at the start of the week. This story with money was not the first one in the course of last months, and Mr Brave was beginning to realise that even the pace of the discourse and his wife’s distractibility were not new to him. In fact, he had been getting used to them.

 

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“Mr Brave we suspect that your wife is seriously ill. She needs hospitalisation to be safely diagnosed so that we could help her as well as the rest of the family.” And they took Margaret away from her husband and kids. A month in the psychiatric ward was necessary to let her know, on her own request down to details, that she was a maniac and what exactly that meant. Although the word - “maniac” was just her own simplification - a new fact to add to her diary which had been put aside for some time, naturally. In rainy moments, that is, in the moments when her thoughts had got weary of their own heaviness and transformed into a rain of banalities that would come as relief to her withered soul, she was trying to compose for herself a new name. This was rather tough as it had to derive from Maniac Monster Bipolar Disorder. In the end she came up with two alternatives: the funny one that was Polar Bear, and the puzzling one, Master Mother.   

 

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There were some elderly people and two young students at the bus stop. Margaret Hilda was approaching the ticket machine. Her angel was safe, with the therapist, who was coming twice a week now in the morning, so at least she could go shopping for some vegetables and whatever else has run out. Susanne, the therapist, was already a family friend and she was at peace knowing that her Angel was with her. At the ticket machine she found out there were no cents in her purse. She needed to buy the ticket at a newspaper stand. The old lady inside the stand was having a phone call and had no intention to finish it. Despite that Margaret Hilda told her she wanted one thirty-minute ticket. Afterwards she could distinctly hear the newsagent saying, “Wait, wait a minute ‘cause an old cow wants a bus ticket, hold on.” Then she leaned forward, keeping the mobile phone still close to her ear and asked with creepy contempt, or something similar: “How many tickets did you say?” Rather confused and angry, Margaret repeated she wanted one ticket and while receiving it in exchange for a five-euro note, the woman, paying careful attention to speaking loud enough, told her friend on the phone: “Did you hear that? The asshole thinks I will be able to live off f*** bus tickets.” She concluded with the strangest laugh Margaret had ever heard and kept on calling.  

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