Jan 11, 2024
Dimitris Passas

Good doc bent a little downwards as he held fast his tiny flashlight to illuminate the inside of my faulty ear that kept raining down a world of pain to me for the last two months. As a formally diagnosed hypochondriac, I refrained from seeing a specialist as even the idea of setting foot in a doctor’s office was enough to stir a vague feeling of panic inside me. However, I was forced to take the intrepid decision when I realized that my aural sense has been seriously undermined and I began having trouble hearing from my left ear. When the old woman who lives right next to my apartment rang my bell two days back in order to return a set of tools that I gave to her husband to fix a leaky faucet in his bathroom, she had to reiterate her sentences twice as I wasn’t able to make out the string of her words at first. So, the Möbius strip of excuses that I employed to avoid seeing an ΕΝΤ had to be set aside and now I was seating in the sizable leather chair of good doc’s medical practice located on the first floor of a modern block of apartments in the city centre.

“Do you live alone, no family?”

Did he say something to me? After concluding his examination, he turned his back to me, and he started writing something in his laptop computer while standing. Thus, we didn’t have any eye contact that would tell me for sure if he uttered anything. As I remained sitting feeling a bit embarassed, he turned his face to me and repeated:

“Do you live alone?”

Ok, now I got it. If I lived alone? Yes, of course. It couldn’t be any other way for me, an introvert by nature since I have been a baby and a loner by choice for the last twenty years or so. My motto has always been: Silence breeds, noise corrupts. Spoken word is the primary source of the fraudulency which governs human contact since time immemorial. Words are exploitative, dishonest. It is the ear of the other that dictates what we should enunciate while we struggle to navigate ourselves through a labyrinthine maze of socio-linguistic norms and graces, the revolting etiquette decreeing hypocrisy in our quotidian interactions. Deception is spoken language’s prerogative.

I always preferred to write; my thoughts, desires and wishes, fears, secrets. Everything was drafted on a blank page which progressively took shape, the succeeding lines manifesting the inner workings of my mind and imagination.

“Yes doc, I live alone. I don’t even have a pet.”

“Social life? Friends, girlfriend perhaps?”

“No, nothing.”

“Since when?”

“Since forever.”

For a few seconds, he seems to ponder on my responses as his face acquires a rueful expression. His eyes are deep set and radiate a sort of warmth that only suits men who have been around for a long time. Old timers. He says:

“Was it that bad?”

I am stunned. Is it possible that he knows me or about me somehow? My past, the days of my youth. The burning shame. No, that happened in another era, another universe.

“Sorry, I don’t understand doc. What do you mean?”

He takes his time before answering.

“Listen, I’ve treated and talked with an infinite number of patients throughout my tenure in hospitals and while working as a private practitioner. I’ve heard people. The best part of this job is not so much about helping and healing others but listening to them. I’ve been told stories of guilt, regret, and pain. I know a tortured soul when I see one. And right now, he is standing directly opposite me.”

“You have a penchant for melodrama, right doc? I mean “tortured soul”? Did you dream of becoming a writer perhaps? Because that kind of pretentious won’t stand on page, I can guarantee that.”

“You’re the writer and you know best. But I must insist. You possess all the telling signs of a man who has been hiding for a really long time. So, the question is inevitable: What happened to you?”

I feel my eyes well up and I put an effort to maintain my composure. I don’t want to tell him. I don’t want to tell anyone, ever. However, almost instead of my own self, I utter something akin to a loud whisper:

“Public humiliation is a heavy burden doc.”

His eyes reflect gentle feelings in all their complexion. Something resembling a sense of osmosis starts to be realized here, it hovers and rises from the ground up and suffuses the air with a tangible tension.

“Do you want to tell me more. I don’t need a detailed, factual account. I just want your take on it.”

“It was bad doc. Too rough. I’ve been through hardships during my life, but nothing comes even close to the cruelty of being exiled, the pain of banishment. I was always a private person; I was quiet though affable towards others. I listened to music. I loved music. Then it happened: I’ve been ridiculed in the eyes of my friends and peers as a coward, a homo and a lunatic. A scorned woman extinguished my reputation and condemned to a solitary life. I never listened to music again. Until today, my house is silent as the depth of the night.”

“Thank you for sharing your grievance. I appreciate it immensely. However, I must tell you the findings of my examination. I’m afraid that we can’t avoid the total loss of hearing from your left ear.”

I squirm in my seat for a while and then settle. That’s it. Endorse reality. I took out my wallet to pay but good doc stopped me with an abrupt hand gesture. He stared at me and said.

“You still have one good ear. Make the most of it and listen to people. Then write. And remember: don’t write

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