David Arioch – Jornalismo Cultural

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Dora’s destiny

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One day, Dora could not stand the pressure, and collapsed on the chilly floor of the work room


Dora decide to alleviate her own pain by committing suicide (Art: Copy)

Dora and I met in early 2008, after the death of her parents in an accident on the BR-376 highway. She was 23 years old, and she had worked at one of these telemarketing stations for three years. After the tragedy, instead of worrying about the girl, all the family moved away from her. At the same time, I was fired from the newspaper because the session where I worked was extinguished shortly after the publisher resigned.

But, it had been a long time since Dora and I met to talk, ramble and tell our plans. Inspired by James Joyce’s Dubliners, my idea was to use layoff money to travel around Ireland. To be more precise, I intended to attend shows from the post-rock band God Is An Astronaut. Furthermore, I wanted to write in a notebook, everything I saw as interesting about human behavior in the Old World, and its relation to time and the environment. I did not want to work, only to wander until the money was gone.

“I want to distance myself from everything, in order to have a chance to be reborn. Humans need to change from time to time, otherwise they can go mad or become even worse – a resigned fellow”, I said to Dora, who smiled as she lightly tapped the tips of her purple nails on the massive rustic table in the bar. She paused for a moment, stared up at the starry sky, pointed the immense moon with one of her delicate hands, lowered her almond eyes, raised them again and said, “Man, I have leukemia.”

I had no reaction, and I believed that nothing that came out of my mouth at that moment would comfort her. Then, I simply recovered my serene expression, fixed my eyes on her eyes, and I subtly touched five times her left hand that rested on the table. She understood and smiled, not saying a word. I realized that Dora did not want to talk about the disease, only to share with someone a revelation she did not dare tell anyone else.

Later, I took her home and went home thinking about how delicate her situation was. I, who had already lost my father to cancer in 1997, could never again see the disease as less than ruthless. It usurps the human being much more than life itself – annihilates its dignity. It is the reaffirmation of our weaknesses, of the end, of ephemerality.

We met for another two months, until one day, talking on the cell phone, she suggested that we should not see each other again. I ended up respecting her decision, understanding the delicacy of the situation. She no longer turned on the camera during our online conversations. She also hid the profile photo. I questioned it once and I regretted it. I did not see her anymore nor by chance. Maybe she had made the decision to leave the house just to work.

Still, I know that I would have felt like the meanest of men if I had left for my joycean journey. I gave up the trip to Ireland and started writing about Dora. We still talked quite often, and I asked her to tell me about her routine. At work, she did not tell anyone about the diagnosis of the disease and continued living as if she had no health problems. I was probably the only person who knew about her leukemia. To look at me, might have been a proof to the sum of her weaknesses.

I never asked her if she regretted telling me about the illness, but I began to realize that she felt more vulnerable in front of me. On the cell phone, her sweet voice diminished more and more, subdued by the constant contradiction of emotions. At times, distressed and confused, she called me at dawn. I barely heard her gasping breath and she hung up regretfully. Her sensibility intensified every day – to the prime of the skin.

At work, there was no respite and she did not want to admit she had leukemia. The clients, who called the call center complaining about the services, did not care about the life or emotional state of those on the other side of the line. “Are you retarded, woman? You donkey! I want my money back! I will not pay for a service I did not use!”, shouted a man, claiming that he was a judge and promised to do his best to see her fired if his problem was not resolved.

The daily complaints intensified. Within three hours, Dora was verbally insulted by up to 20 clients. Unhappy, they overflowed their personal and professional problems on the girl, criticizing her for failures that were beyond her functions. “Listen here, my dear! I’m a doctor, can you hear me? I’ve studied a lot to get where I am and it’s not going to be some kind of telemarketing girl, which has a dirty job for dumb and disqualified people, who will take advantage of me!”, said a woman who presented herself as a relative to a federal legislator.

One day, Dora could not stand the pressure, and collapsed on the chilly floor of the work room. She was pale, lips purplish, and she was cold. She took the afternoon off and went home. She went into the bedroom, sat on the bed, and stared at the reflection in the oblong mirror. She did not feel as pretty as she had before, and she began to cry, watching the tears trickling through her dimpled slits after a heavy loss of weight. She was ten pounds leaner, her hair rapidly losing volume, and hardly anyone knew what was happening to Dora – Although there were many rumours.

“She was so beautiful! What a body she had, eh? Remember the dimples? A charm! Does she suffer from anorexia nervosa? A waste! No more thighs, butt… nothing!”, spoke her boss with a colleague, without noticing the presence of Dora, who heard everything when she was going to the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet, Dora put her hands to her face. She struggled to cry, only tears were left. She was exhausted, and she felt constantly dehydrated, even though she was trying to drink a plenty of water.

She leaned forward and asked, in a small, hesitant voice, if God would take her as fast as possible if her destiny were death. For her, nothing overcame the pain caused by ignorance and human insensitivity. Leaving home has become a tortuous exercise in coping with the worst adversities.

Even in the street, strangers looked at her as if she was not a human being, but something different, innominate. “Mother, why is that girl so thin?”, asked a ten-year-old girl. “I do not know, honey! Because of her face, I suppose she has AIDS”, the woman replied instantly, believing that the distance was enough to prevent Dora from hearing the answer.

Dora quit her job as a telemarketing operator before starting her chemotherapy treatment. She locked herself indoors, surviving from savings and communicating with the world and people only through the internet and the cell phone. She also gave up treatment. Dora did not even go out to the market anymore.

She could not distinguish day and night, especially when she spent many hours lying in bed, sleeping or staring at the white ceiling, which gained uncertain forms according to the prevailing sentiment. “I will not lie, Dora. The truth is that you have from six months to a year left to live, “said the oncologist with sudden naturalness.

Refusing to receive any kind of visit for months, Dora decided to alleviate her own pain by committing suicide with rodenticide. She bought the product online and waited for its arrival. She heard someone clapping, opened the door and, for the first time in more than 50 days, Dora felt the sun touching her snowy face. It was lukewarm and caressed her fine apples. The sky was so clear that she watched closely a noisy, loving rapture of mockingbirds.

She walked to the gate, took the package from the mailman’s hand, and before entering the house, she noticed a small, black dog with only a few days to live, and his brown little eye turned upwards. He was left beside the iris beige vase, Doras’s mother’s favorite. She was surprised by the resistance of the specimen that grew bright and gallant despite the abandonment.

As soon as she opened the package, Dora broke the sealing wax and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, when the telephone rang. “Is it Mrs. Dora? It’s the lab here. We’re calling to let you know that we need you to come here urgently. We have discovered serious errors in your exams. You’ve never had leukemia, just anemia. “

Written by David Arioch

January 17th, 2017 at 1:25 pm