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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (part 4 chapter 28)

2006-08-22 20:21

  27

  He was a man of about fifty with a weather-beaten face, a farm worker whom Tomas had once operated on and who was sent to the spa once a year for treatment. He invited Tomas and Tereza to have a glass of wine with him. Since the law prohibited dogs from entering public places, Tereza took Karenin back to the car while the men found a table at a nearby cafe. When she came up to them, the man was saying, We live a quiet life. Two years ago they even elected me chairman of the collective. Congratulations, said Tomas.

  You know how it is. People are dying to move to the city. The big shots, they're happy when somebody wants to stay put. They can't fire us from our jobs.

  It would be ideal for us, said Tereza. You'd be bored to tears, ma'am. There's nothing to do there. Nothing at all.

  Tereza looked into the farm worker's weather-beaten face. She found him very kind. For the first time in ages, she had found someone kind! An image of life in the country arose before her eyes: a village with a belfry, fields, woods, a rabbit scampering along a furrow, a hunter with a green cap. She had never lived in the country. Her image of it came entirely from what she had heard. Or read. Or received unconsciously from distant ancestors. And yet it lived within her, as plain and clear as the daguerreotype of her great-grandmother in the family album.

  Does it give you any trouble? Tomas asked. The farmer pointed to the area at the back of the neck where the brain is connected to the spinal cord. I still have pains here from time to time.

  Without getting out of his seat, Tomas palpated the spot and put his former patient through a brief examination. I no longer have the right to prescribe drugs, he said after he had finished, but tell the doctor taking care of you now that you talked to me and I recommended you use this. And tearing a sheet of paper from the pad in his wallet, he wrote out the name of a medicine in large letters.

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